Since 2010 this Country has seen higher employment and lower unemployment in every Region and wages are growing at a faster rate in almost a decade. The Secretary of State puts this down to the success of effective employment laws and policy frameworks which strike a valuable balance between flexibility and worker protection.
Workers in the UK work very differently now compared to say 20 years ago with a lot more flexibility in the employment/worker relationship between both worker and employer, with workers benefitting from flexible working arrangements and employers benefitting from more flexible contracts such as zero hours/casual working arrangements.
Because of this the Prime Minister commissioned an independent review to research and make recommendations on what changes need to be made to employment practices to modernise working arrangements for the benefit of both the worker and the employer – this review is called The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices.
The Taylor Review has identified three main strands of reform which are
Fair and decent work
Clarity for employers and worker
- Fair and decent work
Right to request a more stable contract
This mainly applies to workers on zero hours contracts/casual worker agreements where these types of workers will be able to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks of service e.g a minimum amount of hours, days of the week on which they would be required to work. Employers are being given three months in which they then they need to make their decision.
Extension to the break in continuous service
Currently if employees leave an employer for one week or more their continuous service would have been broken. This means that if they then return to the same employer as an employee their continuous service starts from this new date thus resulting in them losing their previous service which impacts on certain employment rights they can gain due to length of service e.g unfair dismissal rights when reaching two years continuous service. The break in service is now being extended to four weeks.
Protecting agency workers
Agency workers can currently exchange their right to be paid equally to opt-out in return for steady guaranteed pay. This is also known as the Swedish Derogation. This isn’t as beneficial to the worker as expected with some missing out on higher pay. This plan is proposing to repeal the Swedish Derogation and in return, will guarantee equal wages for those in similar roles.
Quality of work
Quality of work is shown in a number of ways, fair pay, participation and progression, wellbeing, safety and security, and voice and autonomy. A variation of these qualities will provide better jobs therefore attracting talent and retaining workers who choose to progress in their field. The technical education reforms will provide everyone with access to training programmes and workshops allowing them to better themselves.
- Clarity for employers and workers
Written particulars (a contract of employment) do not always provide a true picture of the employees work life. Employees are described as carrying out regular standard work in both full time and part time roles and could also be on a fixed term contract. A worker is described as a more casual individual who could be living job to job. This plan entitles these workers to day one written rights which include National Minimum Wage, holiday, rest breaks and potentially sick pay.
Clarity of information
Each employee has the right to know what their job role is and what rights they are entitled to. Currently, an employee must receive a written statement of particulars or contract of employment within two months of their start date, without obliging to do so, an employee could take their employer to tribunal. The Good Work Plan will bring forward the entitlement to day one meaning contracts of employment for new starters must be received by them prior to or on their first day of employment. This will have a bigger impact on those who recruit more regularly. Ensuring procedure is in place to provide the correct documents on a new employees’ start date will ensure you are compliant.
All workers are entitled to paid time off, this also extends to casual workers. Many are either unaware of their entitlement or are reluctant to request the leave during busy spells in the Company. The current calculation for casual workers is worked out on the last 12 weeks, this will be increased to 52 weeks to ensure a more accurate calculation is used for seasonal workers. Plans are also being made to ensure vulnerable workers take their entitlement.
- Fairer enforcement
For the Good Work Plan to be successful, the rights need to be enforced and protected in the correct way. Employment tribunals have the final say on how each case is finalised and the company must show willing to accept and change going forward. It has been noted that some companies continue with the unacceptable behaviour and paying the penalty is more financially viable to them. Enforcement officers will be assigned to ensure employees receive their compensation, if they refuse to do so, they will be named publicly for doing so.
Repeating offenders of the unlawful claims will be penalised. There are already some penalties in place, however these will be increased from £5,000 to £20,000. An employment judge will look at each case separately and consider the use of the sanctions.
Where there is a higher risk of exploitation and vulnerability the Director of Labour Market Enforcement will examine the case and provide a strategy and direction on how to move forward whilst protecting those who need it. This includes increasing the number of inspectors and implementing new powers for the Employment Agency Standard Inspectorate. This will allow those who need to claim have a representative on their behalf should they feel they are unable to face their employer head on; this is particularly aimed at the vulnerable.
The Good Work Plan has shown a great interest in protecting those who need a little extra help and modernising equal rights, these changes can have an impact on you and your Company. Look out for more content explaining these points in more detail over the next 2 months and how they could affect you. Big changes are coming, and we need to be prepared. We will also be holding a seminar in March 2020 on The Good Work Plan and how this will impact on your staff and your Company. Look out for your invitation coming soon.
Call our office now on 01206 700 690 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need support.