The Government Publishes Proposals for UK Employment Law Reforms

In a long awaited follow up to Matthew Taylor’s Good Work Review of July 2017, the Government has now published a series of proposals to update UK employment law.

Despite claims that it is the biggest reform of employment law in 20 years, it perhaps more accurately described as a modest update of existing laws.

The Key Proposals

  1. Continuity of Employment – breaks of up to four weeks (currently one week) between employment contracts will not interrupt continuity of employment
  2. Written Statements of Terms and Conditions – will become mandatory for workers as well as employees and must be provided on the first day of work (currently within two months)
  3. Harmonising the Employment Status Test –  to make it the same for both employment and tax purposes.  This is an attempt to prevent employers incorrectly classifying employees or workers as self-employed.  The challenge will be establishing definitions which are better than those already in place and supported by years of case law
  4. Deductions from Staff Tips – banning employers from making deductions
  5. Fines for Aggravating Conduct by Employers – for repeat and aggravated offences the current (rarely used) fines of up to £5,000 are to increase to £20,000
  6. Abolishing the “Swedish Derogation” – removing the current ability of employers to pay agency workers less than their own workers under certain conditions
  7. Limited Protections for Workers on Zero-Hour Contracts – a new right to request a fixed pattern of working hours after 26 weeks on a non-fixed pattern.  Information is limited but this will probably be at the employer’s discretion much like the current right to request flexible working

Timescales for Change

The Government has started to put some of the proposals into law with three Statutory Instruments.

The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 come into force on 6 April 2020.  They cover the written statement of employment particulars being given from day one of employment and also change the reference period for calculating a week’s pay for holiday pay purposes from 12 weeks to 52 weeks.

The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2018 come into force on 6 April 2020 and abolish the Swedish Derogation for agency workers.

The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 increase penalties for aggravated breaches of employment law from 6 April 2019, extend the right to a written statement to workers from 6 April 2020 and lower the percentage of employees needed to request an agreement on informing and consulting employees from 10% to 2% from 6 April 2020.

You can view the complete Good Work Plan PDF proposals using this link to the Government website.

Answering Your Questions

To find out more about how the proposed changes to employment law will affect you or your business, please contact us today to book a free 30 minute consultation with one of our expert employment law solicitors.

The Backhouse Solicitors Team

Tel:        01245 893400
Email:   [email protected]
Visit:     71 Duke Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1JU (2 minutes from the railway station)
or alternatively visit the Contact Us page on this website