The Good Work Plan: What do businesses need to know about employment law reforms?
The Government has announced new legislation to offer more protection to agency workers and employees on zero hours contracts. Coodes Solicitors Employment Lawyer Philip Sayers highlights the key points for employers.
The Government has confirmed today that it will introduce new legislation, which is designed to give more rights to workers in the so-called gig economy. The changes follow the Taylor Review, which was published in the summer of 2017 and focused on modern working practices, including the growing number of people on zero hours contracts. Described by the Government as the “largest upgrade in a generation to workplace rights,” the Good Work Plan gives new rights to temporary or agency workers.
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What are the changes in the Good Work Plan?
The Good Work Plan includes a number of key pieces of legislation, including:
- Employers must now provide employees and workers with details of their rights, in writing, on their first day in a job. This includes their eligibility for sick leave and other paid leave.
- Workers have the right to request more predictable hours and a more stable contract, after 26 weeks of service.
- An increase in breaks that count as continuous service, bringing with it certain employment rights. A gap in work of just a week could previously break what constitutes continuous service, but that has been extended to four weeks.
- Employers have to calculate holiday pay based on 52 weeks, rather than the current 12 weeks, to protect those in seasonal jobs.
- The removal of the Swedish Derogation, which currently allows employers to pay agency workers less than permanent staff.
- Employers who are found to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight in breaching employment rights at Tribunal now face a potential quadrupling of fines from £5,000 to £20,000.
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What difference will it make to workers on zero hours contracts?
An estimated five million UK people are employed under zero hours contracts, which remain controversial and have led to a number of disputes in recent years. The main criticism of the reforms from the unions is that they do not tackle zero hours contracts.
While the Good Work Plan does not ban zero hours contracts, some of the new legislation – such as the right to request more predictable hours – could force some employers to change the way they manage workers on these contracts.