Employment Law Update December 2019

Following on from the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices in December 2018, the government published its employment law proposals in the “Good Work Plan”. Since then, various regulations have been introduced to give effect to many of those proposals. They include: the Agency Workers Regulations 2019; The Employment Rights (Employment Particular and Paid Annual Leave) Regulations 2018; and the Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.
Most of the regulations are due to come into force in April 2020.

Summary of the key proposals

Information and Consultation arrangements
The Taylor Review noted that where there are high levels of employee engagement this increases the productivity in the workplace. The Good Work Plan introduced legislation, that is due to come into force in April 2020, that will require information and consultation arrangements to be set up where 2% of the workforce make a request, previously the threshold was 10%. The requirement for the request to be made by a minimum of 15 employees remains in place.
Extension of written statements rights
At present, an employee must work for two months before they have a right to be provided with a written statement of employment terms by their employer. However, under the Good Work Plan with effect from 1 April 2020 there will be an obligation upon employers to provide employees and workers with a written statement of terms from the first day of the job. Extra information will now also be required, such as, how long a job is expected to last, conditions of any probationary period and details of any training requirements.
Holiday pay period
Currently for the purposes of calculating holiday pay entitlements, the current reference period for calculating a week’s pay is the preceding 12 weeks, but from 1 April 2020 the reference period will be the preceding 52 weeks. This will allow for seasonal variations, for example, to be taken into account. For those that have not worked for a 52 week period, the reference period will become the amount of weeks for which the worker has been employed.
Increasing employment tribunal fines
Since April 2019 the maximum fine that an Employment Tribunal can impose has risen from £5,000 to £20,000, where it finds employers have breached employment rights and there are “aggravating features”. The fines imposed where there are aggravating features are usually 50% of the award made to the employee.
Parental Bereavement Leave
Under the Parental Bereavement and Pay Act 2018, there are new provisions due to be implemented in April 2020. These provisions allow employed parents 2 weeks leave if they suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. These parents will also be able to claim pay for this period, subject to meeting eligibility criteria.
Agency Workers
Agency workers can currently exchange their right to be paid equally to permanent employees in return for a contract guaranteeing pay between assignments. This was designed to give reassurance that they would continue to earn during gaps in work. However, there is evidence to suggest that agency workers are not benefiting from this because it’s becoming increasingly unusual for agency workers to have gaps between assignments but still without their right to equal pay.
Legislation is being introduced to repeal the current law and ban the use of this type of contract to withhold equal pay rights. This will guarantee that agency workers will receive equal pay with those on permanent contracts.
Improving employment status
An individual’s employment status determines which statutory employment rights apply and how tax is required to be paid. The Taylor Review noted that some businesses might not currently be providing people with the rights they are entitled to, and/or may not be paying the right taxes. The Good Work Plan aims to provide greater clarity, with greater emphasis on whether the employer “controls” the worker.
If you would like more advice on this topic, please contact the Commercial Team at Wansbroughs on 01380 733300, or at commercial@wansbroughs.com.

Last updated 04/12/2019