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Good Work Plan promises clearer contracts, fairer rules

Good Work Plan promises clearer contracts, fairer rules

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Flexibility has been credited as a significant factor in the success of the UK labour market and rise in employment in recent years. There has, however, been some concern regarding imbalance and with the flexibility being one-sided. As a result, the Government set up an independent review led by Matthew Taylor. The review resulted in the publication of the Good Work Report (aka Taylor Report) which put forward proposals to redress this balance between employers and employees/workers in the law and employment practice.

Following consultation, the Government published a raft of proposals in December 2018 for taking forward the majority of the Taylor Report’s recommendations in its ‘Good Work Plan’. The main proposals under the Government’s Good Work Plan are:

Continuity of Employment

  • Extend the current period of a week to break continuity of employment to four weeks

Contracts of Employment and Written Statement of Particulars of Employment

  • Right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks of service
  • Extend the current right to a written statement of particulars of employment for employees to workers
  • Reduce the period in which a written statement of particulars of employment can be provided from two months to day one of employment/work
  • Expand the information to be provided within a written statement of particulars of employment for both, employees and workers

Employment Status 

  • Improve the clarity of the current employment status tests between employees, workers and self employed with legislation and guidance
  • Place greater emphasis on control instead of the right to provide a substitute to distinguish workers from employees
  • Align the employment status frameworks for employment rights and taxation

Agency Workers

  • Require all employment businesses to provide each agency worker with a Key Facts Page which will include the type of contract the worker is engaged under, how they will be paid and what minimum pay they can expect and any deductions/fee that will be taken from their pay.
  • Power of enforcement by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate where a Key Facts Page is not provided
  • Repeal the Swedish Derogation under the Agency Workers Regulations.  This will mean that all agency workers will be entitled to equal pay with their permanent counterparts after 12 weeks
  • Increase state enforcement protections for agency workers who have had pay withheld or had unclear deductions by an umbrella company

Employment Tribunals

  • Simplify the process for employment tribunal claims
  • Substantial increases in the penalty for aggravating conduct
  • Require employment tribunals to consider use of sanctions where employers have lost a previous case on broadly comparable facts
  • Improve the information and guidance on the enforcement of tribunal decisions
  • ‘Name and Shame’ employers who do not pay tribunal awards made against them

Holiday Entitlement

  • Extend the holiday pay reference period for those who pay varies with the work done from 12 to 52 weeks
  • Launch campaign to raise awareness and understanding of the paid entitlement to annual leave
  • State enforcement of vulnerable workers’ holiday pay rights
  • Explore the option for a new holiday pay calculator

Miscellaneous

  • Reduce the threshold required for a request to set up information and consultation arrangements from 10% to 2% of employees
  • Ban employers from making deductions from staff tips
  • Monitor role of umbrella companies
  • Consider whether enforcement mechanism should be introduced for Statutory Sick Pay

Whilst there are a number of changes proposed by the Government as summarised above, there is some concern that the proposals do not do much to redress the balance between the most vulnerable workers such as those on zero hour contracts and agency workers and employers. More responsible employers will therefore continue to be at a disadvantage to their less scrupulous competitors. The proposals do, however, indicate the possibility of greater clarity on employment status which is of particular interest to most ECA members.

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