The Government has issued a press release setting out its ‘Good Work plan’ in response to last year’s Taylor Review on what impact modern working practices are having on the world of work. Four consultations are planned but there will be no immediate changes to the law.
Peter Stanway, our BackupHR™ legal expert comments:
The Government is however proposing to make some changes without giving further details or proposed timescales. A number of the measures envisage improved guidance rather than changing legislation.
- Help enforce vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay (addressing the current uncertainty for gig economy workers);
- Introduce day-one rights such as holiday and sick pay entitlements and a new right to a payslip for all workers, including casual and zero-hour workers;
- Provide all agency workers with a clear breakdown of who pays them, and any costs or charges deducted from their wages;
- Consider a higher minimum wage rates for workers on zero-hour contracts.
- Consult on repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers on lower rates than permanent employees (the so-called Swedish derogation).
- A right for all workers, not just zero-hour and agency, to request a ‘more stable contract';
- Taking further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker;
- Define ‘working time’ for flexible workers who find jobs through apps or online so they know when they should be being paid;
- Launch a task force with business to promote awareness and take-up of the right to request flexible working;
- Ensure new and expectant mothers know their rights (as well as employers);
- Launch a new campaign to encourage more working parents to share childcare through shared parental leave;
- Introduce a new naming and shaming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards; and
- Increase employment tribunal fines for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight to £20,000 and consider increasing penalties for employers who have previously lost similar cases.
As for the consultations, the four topics to be covered are the rather trickier issues of enforcement of employment rights; agency workers recommendations; measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market; and employment status.
The Taylor Review ran to over 100 pages with recommendations on a wide range of topics. The press release states that all but one of Matthew Taylor’s 53 recommendations will be “acted on” but note the language, “acted upon” is not the same as “accepted”. The only one which is not being taken forward in some way is the proposal to equalise national insurance for employees and the self-employed. The Government states that it is committed to reforming employment law and practices to keep pace with modern ways of working. However, we are still not much further forward in knowing how and when this will happen in practice.
Much of the Good Work Plan is either a call for further consultation at this stage or agreeing to look at possible future reforms and guidance. Setting employment status to one side for the moment, changes, such as lengthening the reference period for holiday pay calculations and extending the period counted as a break in continuous service beyond one week, may have significant impact. Reviewing legislation relating to protection against redundancy for pregnant employees and those on maternity leave is another area of potentially significant impact.
So if all this is just proposals what if anything should you be doing now?
- Review the employment status of contractors and casual/zero hour people
- Make sure you advise pregnant women of their rights (in a Handbook)
- Follow the proper procedure for flexible working requests
- If you engage interns on an unpaid basis, start paying them if you are asking them to undertake useful work, core to what you do.
The guidance provided in this article is just that – guidance. Before taking any action make sure that you know what you are doing, or call us for a free initial chat on 01480 677980.