The government has published a series of proposed changes to employment law in its Good Work Plan, which it describes as the largest upgrade to workplace rights in a generation. Will Walsh, Partner in DMH Stallard’s Employment Team, gives details of the main highlights:
- Legislation will be introduced to streamline the employment status tests, so that they are the same for employment and tax purposes and to avoid employers misclassifying employees as self-employed.
- The right to a written statement of terms and conditions will be extended to workers, as well as employees. These statements will need to be given by the first day of work, rather than within two months of the individual’s start date.
- New rights will be introduced for those without a set working pattern, largely aimed at those working on zero hours contracts. These individuals will have the right to request a fixed working pattern, if they have not worked under one for 26 weeks. It is anticipated that the mechanism will be similar to the current procedure for requesting flexible working and that employers will have the ability to refuse requests. There are currently no details of what penalties there will be for non-compliance.
- The rules on continuity of employment will be changed. Currently a gap of one week between employments can be enough to break continuity. This will be extended to four weeks.
- There will be a ban on employers making any deductions from staff tips.
- For agency workers, the “Swedish Derogation” will be abolished. This gave employers the ability to pay agency workers less than their own employees in some circumstances.
- Employment Tribunals will have an obligation to consider the use of extra sanctions for employers who lose a case, where the employer has lost a previous case on broadly similar facts.
- Employment Tribunals currently have the power to award additional compensation of up to £5,000 where an employer has committed a serious breach of its obligations, known as an “aggravated breach”. This penalty is not widely used. Employment Tribunals will be encouraged to use it more and the maximum will be increased to £20,000.
In January 2019 we are running a series of Breakfast Workshops, which are free of charge, reviewing the key employment law changes from 2018 and looking forward to 2019 and beyond, which will include a further assessment of the government’s proposals. For further details of topics we will be covering and of how to book your place, please click here.