The Good Work Plan
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recommendations from the Taylor Review
The Good Work Plan sets out the government's vision for the future of the United Kingdom labour market. It will look at how the 53 recommendations from the Taylor Review regarding Modern Working Practices are to be implemented. The recommendations are separated into three main categories;
- Fair and decent work;
- Clarity (for both employers and workers);
- Fairer enforcement of employment rights.
Fair and Decent Work
To create a fair working environment, the Government intend to implement the following;
Flexible and Stable Contracts For Workers
While many workers are content with varied hours, the Government will give the right for workers (after 26 weeks of service) to request a fixed working pattern. With the view to provide both workers and employers more stability.
Extending the Continuous Service Break
Workers who are contracted intermittently can struggle to have access to their legal rights because they are unable to build their period of continuous service. Currently, the break period is one week. However, this will be extended to four weeks.
Agency Worker Protection
Currently, agency workers can forego the right to be paid equally compared to others employed on a permanent basis in return for the guarantee that they will be paid between assignments. It became apparent that many agency workers were being employed on long-term contracts, and ultimately not benefiting. This type of guarantee will no longer be possible, ensuring that agency workers are receiving equal pay.
In the 2018 Autumn budget, it was announced that £100million would be used for the National Retraining Scheme. This is intended to support people towards progression in the workplace, and help individuals redirect their career to secure a high-skilled role with a higher wage.
There have been reports that have promoted the need for employers to take greater care of the mental well-being of their employees. Paul Farmer and Lord Stevenson have both highlighted that if employers create a supportive workplace by setting some core standards will help with stress in the workplace which can also benefit the Company by reducing absence levels.
In 2019 the Government will set out the remit for the Low Pay Commission (LPC) for 2020 and ongoing. This is with the intention that this will help bring an end to low pay for many workers. To assist with workers receiving a higher wage, employers in the hospitality industry will need to pass on tips that have been earned rather than taking any deductions.
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Clarity for both Employees and Workers
Classifying Employment Status
Currently, there are separate frameworks that determine employment status. The status is reliant on characteristics of the working relationship rather than just what the contract states.
- Employees tend to work regular hours (whether that is full or part-time). Employees are entitled to statutory rights.
- Workers tend to work casual hours and have the ability to refuse work. Workers are only entitled to basic rights, for example, national minimum wage, holiday pay and rest breaks.
- Self-employed individuals run their own business, have control over how they conduct their work and entitled to health and safety rights.
The Review also concluded that there are instances where Companies have sometimes knowingly misled staff or have tried to ‘misclassify’ individuals to avoid liability over a person’s rights and entitlements. The Government intend to introduce legislation that will prevent this.
It was determined that there should be an effort made to align the employee and the worker framework to avoid confusion and non-compliance. However, it was noted that it is still essential to maintain the flexibility element that a worker has, but there needs to be greater clarity surrounding employment rights.
The Taylor Review recommended that the law needs to be more transparent and how it applies to each individual’s situation in the workplace. The Good Work Plan has created a document that details the information that must be made clear and available to a person at the start of their employment. This will include a statement of their rights in the workplace.
Once an employee has started at a Company, they are entitled to receive a written statement within two months that details their employment and rights. The current legislation excludes workers from receiving the written statement, and therefore they are often unaware of the particulars of employment.
It was recommended in the Taylor Review that necessary changes are made, which the Government has agreed to so that all individuals are aware of their rights and have a full understanding of what they are accepting when they start a new role. The mandatory contents of a written statement for workers will include;
- How long the role will last, for example, the end date of a fixed-term contract;
- Notice periods;
- Sick pay entitlement;
- Probation period duration;
- All paid leave, for example, holiday or maternity/paternity.
Key Facts Page For Agency Worker
Agency worker contracts can lack transparency, and a worker can be confused about many aspects of their employment. For example, greater clarity is needed surrounding who is responsible for paying the worker and therefore who will be making any deduction of wages.
The Review highlighted that some Companies attempted to hide relevant information in the small print of complicated agency worker contracts. To tackle this, the Government intend to legislate that all employment businesses provide a Key Facts Page to all agency workers.
The page will include;
- The type of contract they are employed under, for example, a fixed-term;
- Rate of pay;
- How they are paid;
- Who they will be paid by (whether that is directed by the Company or through an intermediary);
- Any deductions or fees that will be taken and an estimate of their take-home pay.
The Taylor Review stated that greater transparency was needed regarding a worker’s entitlement to holiday pay. The review found that some individuals were being prevented from taking their annual leave, and some felt reluctant to ask in case the request was refused.
While many employers are aware of the statutory minimum, others would benefit from clear information. The lack of awareness is the main barrier to a worker receiving the correct holiday entitlement. The government intend to create a campaign that will be aimed at both employers and employees to boost understanding around this area.
Currently, a worker’s holiday entitlement is calculated by using the average hours over the previous 12 weeks, as a reference period. The Taylor Review proposed that this is extended to 52 weeks so that seasonal workers can benefit from a full holiday pay entitlement. The Government plan to legislate this change, and also to set additional measures to ensure that vulnerable workers are not losing their entitled accrual.
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As with any breach of the law, it is essential for the wronged party to have access to justice and the Taylor Review has called for the Government to improve this.
The Good Work Plan document will set out that changes to be made that reflect the measures currently used to uphold the underpayment of the National Minimum wage. These will be applied to any underpayment of worker holiday pay. This will assist businesses in understanding the law so that they can adhere to it and not face a claim for backdated holiday entitlement.
The fair enforcement will also look to increase the protection a worker has to take action against a Company where pay has been withheld, or unclear deductions have been made under an umbrella company.
Aggravated Breach Penalty
Also, the Government intend to increase the maximum penalty that a Tribunal can impose for an aggravated breach to £20,000. The legislation surrounding this type of breach will create an obligation for a Tribunal to use sanctions where Companies have lost previous causes of action involving similar facts. Both of these are being implemented as a deterrent so that businesses make a conscious effort to comply with the law.
The Good Work Plan aim is to create a fair workplace that is transparent and will ensure that workers are not disadvantaged. The intention is also to help businesses get a clear understanding of how they can comply with the law so that they do not receive claims for a breach.
About the author
James is on the Business Development & Account Management team at Neathouse Partners and regularly posts articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law, including case law & legislation updates. If you have a particular issue you would like addressed, feel free to drop James an email, and he will be happy to offer his assistance.
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