The Good Work Plan – Preparing for Changes
The Good Work Plan followed the Taylor Report and was seen as an attempt by the UK government to meet the changing needs of the employment world, including the gig economy. In December 2018, the government published proposals to take forward some of those recommendations contained in the Taylor Report.
You should however be aware that the Good Work Plan does not apply in Northern Ireland, where employment law is a dissolved issue. Without a functioning Assembly, it is difficult to say, when, or if, any similar proposals might be adopted here. You will be aware that whilst Northern Ireland employment legislation often follows that in the rest of the UK, the Assembly will consider the specific working environment in Northern Ireland before simply mirroring employment provisions which apply in England & Wales.
In relation to the Good Work Plan, whilst some draft regulations have already been issued, most will not apply until April 2020. Therefore, if you have workers in England and Wales, you should have ample time to review the company’s policies and procedures to prepare for the introduction of these changes.
The existing draft regulations cover agency workers, where it is proposed to remove the Swedish Derogation, and annual leave and employment particulars which would allow an employer to use a reference period of 52 weeks when calculating an average week’s pay where a worker has not set remuneration. Those draft regulations also require the provision of certain information by written statement of terms from day one of the working relationship, such information to be provided to all employees and workers, including agency workers.
Draft regulations have been issued which would allow an employment tribunal to increase maximum aggregated damages where an employer has lost a previous case on broadly comparable facts. Whilst this provision is already in a draft regulation, the proposal to name and shame employers who have failed to pay previous tribunal awards has not yet been finalised but both measures taken together, would certainly have implications for any employers with a “track record” at tribunal.
There may be legislation introduced which would allow employees and workers, after 26 weeks of service, to request a more fixed working pattern and it is anticipated that such possible legislation might apply in a fashion similar to the flexible working regulations. There are also discussions around the much talked about ban of allowing employers to deduct money from staff tips. Possibly, there may be legislation which would assist in helping everyone identify if an individual is an employee/a worker/self-employed, an issue which has been the subject of many discussions before the Courts. Such provisions could have more emphasis on the idea of control within the working relationship rather than any right to substitution, which has also engaged the Courts.
You will see therefore that for your workers in England, you still have some time to ensure that your internal arrangements will be ready to meet any requirements, planned for April 2020. Legislation that will apply in April 2019 concerns the issue of payslips and requires employers to provide employees, who are paid according to time worked, with details of the number of hours being paid. This provision is introduced by an amendment to the Employment Rights Act 1996 and you will be aware that the terms of the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 already require an employer to provide a written itemised pay statement to employees.
We will have to await the return of the Assembly to ascertain whether the above amendment, and any other proposals from the Taylor Report, or consultations are introduced here. It would however be wise to review your policies and practice to ensure your organisation throughout the UK keeps up with best practice in an ever-changing employment world.
While great care has been taken in the preparation of the content of this article, it does not purport to be a comprehensive statement of the relevant law and full professional advice should be taken before any action is taken in reliance on any item covered.