The Good Work Plan – UK Employment Law

Posted:6th April 2020

Amidst the relative turmoil of 2019, the Governments proposals to shake up UK Employment Law were well and truly put on the back burner. However with the confidence of a new term in Office the ‘Good Work Plan’ is now set to bring about significant changes in 2020 which will affect both Employers and those providing services to them who, as will become apparent are not necessarily called employees!

The current pandemic will however inevitably have implications on the timing of a number of the measures proposed.

What is it?

The Good work Plan is the Governments response to a comprehensive review of working practices in the UK carried out by Mathew Taylor ( Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts), and will involve the Government introducing Legislation to put their proposals into law (much of which has not yet been passed).

The Plan highlights challenges presented by new and developing ways in which people work and the so called ‘gig economy’

What’s happening?

We highlight the more significant changes to things as they stand;

1. Extra Protection from Redundancy for Pregnant Women and New Parents

Currently the Law provides protection in terms of Redundancy rights and entitlements to Mothers and parents during the period of their absence on maternity/ paternity leave. The proposals are to extend that protection for a further 6 months following return to work.

2. Holiday Pay- Raising awareness

Many people working outside the definition of “employees” ( those employed under a contract of employment), are unaware of their rights to holiday pay and the Government has committed to publicising these rights to individuals who do not worked fixed or regular hours. It also plans to increase the period of time for averaging pay to calculate holiday pay due, from the current 12 week period to 52 weeks where appropriate.

3. Written Statements of Employment Rights

At the moment only employees are entitle to receive a written statement of their entitlements in work. The proposals are that this right is extended to workers who will be entitled to a statement from their first day of work. The statement will cover details such as expected duration of work, notice requirements and eligibility for sick pay and other paid leave eg. maternity/paternity leave.

4. Agency Workers

The Government proposes implementing legislation to ensure that all long term agency workers receive the same entitlements as Permanent Staff. Agency workers will also be entitled to receive key facts information explaining who is responsible for them and setting out how their services are paid for, and by whom.

5. Employment Status

It is remarkable feature of UK Employment law that there is no single test to determine an individual’s employment status. Many employment rights vary currently depending on whether an individual is considered an employee a worker, self-employed or as an agency worker and the Taylor review recognised the problems caused by this uncertainty not least in terms of the difference in the way the various categories are taxed. The Government has decided not to follow the recommendation to introduce a single dependent contractor definition but has committed to putting forward proposals so that the difference in treatment of individuals for tax purposes can be reduced to a minimum. It has also committed to introducing clearer tests to determine an individual’s employment status.

6. Stable Contracts v Zero Hours Contracts

For those who prefer the certainty of regular hours as opposed to the uncertainty associated with zero hour contracts the Government will be legislating to allow employees and workers to request a formal arrangement after they have worked 26 weeks.

For more information on the Plan and its implications for you as an Employer or for advice on how your rights as a worker or employee are affected, please contact Graham Shannon at our Gosforth Office.