New Employment Law Proposals

The Government has set out a range of proposals for reforms of employment law this December 2018. In its report the ‘Good Work Plan’, the Government has set a list of responses to the Taylor Review which was carried out in 2017. There is no draft legislation attached, nor (with minor exceptions) are there any dates or commitments provided for legislation. The key proposals are:

  1. Right to request a more predictable and stable contract – particularly helpful for those who work varied hours and would like to be able to request a more fixed working pattern from their employer after 26 weeks of service. Example of someone who, although working varied days and hours each week, tends to work over 30 hours each week. This has been the norm for at least 26 weeks. This employee can request a contract that grants him a 30 hour week contract.
  2. Legislation to streamline the employment status tests so they are the same for employment and tax purposes, and to avoid employers misclassifying employees/workers as self-employed. An example is looking to rethink the test for what makes an employee and employee. An example is that the notion of substitution for work purposes is not beneficial as it is rarely used in practice. More emphasis, it is argued, should be placed on control and less on the notional right to send a substitute.
  3. The National Retraining Scheme – an ambitious programme designed to drive adult leaning and retraining and to help the UK respond to a changing economy. Principally, the Government is committed to supporting working adults to retrain, particularly where their job could be threatened by automation. This will have a positive impact by supporting people progress in work, redirect their careers and secure high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future.
  4. As far as continuity of service is concerned, changing the rules on continuity of employment, so that a break of up to four weeks (currently one week) between contracts will not interrupt continuity. This will provide greater rights for agency workers who may be disadvantaged by the one wee rule.
  5. Extending the right to a written statement of terms and conditions to workers (as well as employees), and requiring the employer to give it on the first day of work (rather than within two months)
  6. The report acknowledges that there are a minority of employers (typically in the hospitality department) who exploit their staff by retaining the tips they earn. The report introduces a ban on employers making deductions from staff tips.
  7. As well as providing guidance as to how the ET’s powers can be used when imposing additional penalties in circumstances where an employer has breached its obligations, increasing the (hardly ever imposed) penalty for employer's aggravating conduct from £5,000 to £20,000.
  8. Abolishing the Swedish Derogation, which gives employers the ability to pay agency workers less than their own workers in certain circumstances. Practically, this means that agency workers’ rights to equal pay after 12 weeks cannot be avoided
  9. Increase the reference period for determining an average week’s pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. This is particularly beneficial for those whose hours vary at different points of the year (e.g. retail).

 

Roy Magara

Published on 19/12/2018

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