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The Government’s Plans for Workplace Reform

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For more information on Darwin Gray’s employment law and HR services visit darwingray.com/employment-hr

The Good Work Plan, described by the Government as “the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years”, aims to give workers greater access to work and provide more clarity to employment relationships. Several of these changes come into force from April 6.

Employment status

The Government wants to make employment status tests clearer so they reflect the reality of modern working relationships. It also wants to improve the guidance and online tools available to help individuals understand their employment status. However, the Government has not yet published any further details on how it will tackle these issues, so employers should keep an eye out for any relevant announcements.

Holiday pay

From 6 April, the Government will increase the holiday pay reference period for calculating an average week’s pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. The increase will prevent seasonal workers losing out over the way holiday pay is currently calculated, and it will give more flexibility to workers in terms of choosing when to take holiday.

Agency workers

The legal loophole known as the ‘Swedish derogation’, which currently allows agencies to opt out of paying their agency staff the same as their permanent workforce, will be abolished. The Swedish derogation rule could be applied when an agency worker had been with the same employer for more than 12 weeks and they were paid between assignments.

By 30 April, temporary work agencies must give written notice to their agency workers with contracts containing a Swedish derogation clause that those provisions will no longer apply from 6 April.

Employers and agencies will need to provide agency workers with a Key Facts Page containing an overview of the proposed contractual arrangements, such as the type of contract, the minimum rate of pay, how they are to be paid, if they are paid through an intermediary company, any deductions or fees that will be taken, and what this means for their take home pay.

Written statement of terms to all workers

From 6 April, a written statement of terms must be given to all workers, as well as employees, on or before the first day of employment.

The terms must include how long a job is expected to last, or the end date of a fixed-term contract, how much notice is required to terminate the agreement, details of eligibility for sick leave and pay, the duration and conditions of any probationary period, the contractual hours and days workers are required to work, and any other benefits.

Right to request a stable contract

The Government is proposing to introduce a right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service for the same employer. However, the Government has not provided any detail of who exactly can exercise this right or how this it would work in practice, so employers should look out for any updates.

Continuous service

The Good Work Plan will make it harder to break continuous service – a break can currently be created by just one week in between contracts.  The new changes mean that if the employee or worker comes back within four weeks then their continuous service will be preserved, helping those who work on a sporadic or casual basis to qualify for more employment rights.

Voice and autonomy

The threshold required for a request to set up collective information and consultation arrangements will be reduced from 10% to 2% of the workforce, although the 15-employee minimum threshold for initiation of proceedings will remain in place.

To hear more about the Good Work Plan and other employment law updates coming up for April, join us and TSR Legal on 19 March at Sophia Gardens: eventbrite.co.uk/e/tsr-legal-employment-law-update-tickets

For more information on Darwin Gray’s employment law and HR services visit darwingray.com/employment-hr