Following the publication of the Taylor review of modern working practices in July 2017 (weekly LELR 557 and Spring LELR 2018) which set out a number of recommendations and four consultations early in 2018, the government has announced finally published its response in its ‘Good Work Plan’.
Significantly, the Government has failed to set out clear proposals for clarifying the law on employment status, which determines entitlement to employment law rights and does not go far enough to protect workers by failing to ban zero hours contracts. Having said this the Good Work Plan does set out some welcome reforms including
- the right to a written statement of employment particulars rights for all workers and not just to employees, from day one of employment which will include the following additional information, normal working hours, the days of the week the worker is required to work, whether or not the hours or days vary and, if so, how and any other paid leave and benefits (such as entitlement to sick pay and maternity leave and pay).
- repeal of the so called “Swedish derogation” in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (which was aimed at providing agency workers to be paid between assignments but which, in practice, meant agency workers lost the right to claim equal pay with those directly employed by the hirer).
- increasing the penalty employment tribunals can order employers to pay from £5,000 to £20,000 for aggravated breaches of employment rights where a tribunal claim succeeds.
- amending the Working Time Regulations 1998 so that holiday pay is calculated for workers who have been employed for 52 weeks to be calculated over a period of 52 weeks instead of 12 weeks.
- reduce the number of employees required to request information and consultation arrangements on a wide range of employment related developments under the Information and Consultation Regulations 2004 (ICE) from 10% to 2%.
The government has laid down the following statutory instruments to implement the above proposals but with the exception of the increase in the penalty employment tribunals can award, these will not come into force until April 2020:
- The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018, which will introduce the right to a written statement of employment particulars from day one and amendments to the Working Time Regulations on the reference period for calculating holiday pay.
- The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 which will repeal the Swedish derogation and enable agency workers to claim equal pay with those directly employed with the hirer.
- The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 which increases financial penalties for employers (effective from 6 April 2019), extends the right to a written statement to all workers and reduces the number of employees required to request an agreement in respect of information and consultation.
Other proposals include:
- A right to request a more stable contract for those who have 26 weeks service and work variable hours;
- A right to continue to accrue employment service where there is a gap in employment of four weeks;
- A ban on employers making deductions from staff tips
- The introduction of a new single labour market enforcement agency
There is no detail on how these proposals will be implemented.
Stephen Cavalier CEO comments: “The proposals fall well short of meeting the Governments stated commitment of improving quality of work and encouraging better worker engagement, particularly given the failure to ban zero hours contracts, the failure to include any proposal to ensure good employment practices and quality jobs are considered as part of the procurement process (as applies in Wales) and the failure to give trade unions a right of access to workers or workplaces.
Ultimately the success of any employment legislation depends on effective enforcement which means that trade unions must have a central role. Enforcement is not only dependent on the role and resources of the labour inspectorate: workers must have proper access to justice. The government must give a clear commitment not to re-introduce employment tribunal fees, otherwise workers will be denied access to justice.”
 See the Welsh Governments Code of Practice on Ethical Employment in Supply Chains