Government publishes the ‘Good Work Plan’
The Good Work Plan sets out the government’s vision for the future of the UK labour market; “a labour market that rewards people for hard work, that celebrates good employers and that is ambitious about boosting productivity and earnings potential in the UK”. The Plan sets out a wide range of policy and legislative changes to put its vision into reality, with a strategy of three main themes: fair and decent work; clarity for employers and workers; and fairer enforcement.
Set out over 68 pages, the government claims that the Plan is ‘the biggest reform of employment law in 20 years’. In summary, the headline proposals are:
- Extending the right to a written statement of terms and conditions to workers (as well as employees) from day one.
- Making it easier for employees to establish continuity of employment, so that a break of up to four weeks (currently one week) will not interrupt continuity.
- A ban on employers making deductions from staff tips.
- Employment status tests to be refined after further research, with an online employment status tool to be developed, streamlining the tests for employment and tax purposes.
- Increasing the reference period for holiday pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks, alongside the launch of a holiday pay awareness campaign.
- Repealing the ‘Swedish derogation’ in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which excludes agency workers from the right to the same pay as directly-recruited workers in certain circumstances.
- Introducing a naming and shaming scheme for those employers who fail to pay Employment Tribunal awards within a reasonable time.
Whilst it is good to see the government taking action following the Taylor Review, the suggestion that this is the biggest overhaul in 20 years seems to be a bit of an overstatement. Of course, clarity surrounding the calculation of holiday pay will be welcome, following the string of cases in this area, and legislation to clarify employment status is longed-for, for employers and employees alike.
However, particularly with employment status, the difficulty is in establishing clearer legal definitions than those we currently have. The Government has simply said that detailed recommendations in this area will follow.
For employers, rest assured there are no immediate changes. The wording of the applicable legislation needs to be fine tuned and, for some recommendations, these are only ‘proposals’ at this stage. When and how these changes will work in practice remains to be seen, but we will keep you updated.
Whatever your opinion of the Plan, it can be accessed and read here.