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the Government’s Good Work Plan published

18 December 2018

The Government have claimed it’s the biggest reform of employment law in 20 years but with no draft legislation or even any dates or commitments to legislate, what exactly did the Government announce yesterday? In effect, it’s simply a series of proposals following the Taylor Good Work Review. The proposals include:

  • a break of up to four weeks (currently one week) between contracts will not interrupt continuity of service;
  • holiday pay will be calculated over a 52-week reference period rather than the current twelve weeks.
  • those working variable hours (or zero-hours contracts) will be able after twenty-six weeks of service to ask for fixed hours;
  • extending the right to a written statement of terms and conditions to workers and requiring the employer to give it on the first day of work;
  • legislation to streamline the employment status tests so they are the same for employment and tax purposes;
  • a ban on employers making deductions from staff tips;
  • increasing the penalty for employer's aggravating conduct from £5,000 to £20,000 (although in practice this is very rarely used); and
  • abolishing the Swedish Derogation, which gives employers the ability to pay agency workers less than their own workers in certain circumstances.

Most of the changes don’t come as much of surprise as they were already set out in the Taylor review and the Government had committed to considering those proposals as part of their response.

For those clients who engage casual employees, the change to continuity of service will impact as the right to claim unfair dismissal (and other rights) will be gained far more easily and in many more cases. These workers will also be request a more predictable and stable contract (along the lines of the current right to request flexible working) after twenty-six weeks of service.

New legislation to improve clarity on employment status, reflecting modern working practices, is potentially the most significant change of all. However, to date we have not indication as to what this legislation will look like. It’s certainly not a straightforward issue with the courts having grappled with it for years.

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