Following recommendations from the 2018 Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, the Government’s Good Work Plan was put into force. Some elements of the plan did not come into place until April 2020 which is an extra administrative burden on all employers.
Many of us missed these important changes due to the pandemic and are only now realising the impact of them. Do not get caught out by ‘not knowing’!
So, what has changed?
‘Day One’ Rights to Statement of Main Terms and Conditions of Employment (SMT)
Previously an Employer had two months to issue a new employee with a SMT. From April 2020 an employer now has to issue that statement on day one of employment. The information that should be included is below:
- How long the job is expected to last or an end date for a fixed term contract
- How much notice is required from both the employer and the employee
- Detail any eligibility for sick pay or sick leave – SSP and / or Company Sick Pay
- Details of any other types of paid leave – including holiday (at least statutory minimum)
- How long any probationary period will last and the conditions for passing or being extended
- Pay – hourly / monthly – how this will be paid and when
- Specify the days and times workers are required to work
Lowering information and consultation thresholds
The Government has introduced regulations lowering the threshold required to set up information and consultation arrangements from 10% to 2% of employees.
Agency workers on a ‘Pay Between Assignment’ contracts will no longer be excluded from the equality provisions of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010. This guarantees equal wages with comparable permanent workers for all agency workers once they reach 12 weeks’ service in one assignment
The Good Work Plan requires employment businesses to issue agency workers with a ‘key information document’. This document must include information on:
- The type of contract
- Minimum expected rate of pay
- How they will be paid and by whom (agency or company)
- Any deductions or fees that will be taken
- You cannot charge agency workers for finding them work
- Holiday pay and entitlement
- What their expected take home pay will be
Holiday Pay Reference Periods
The reference period used to calculate holiday pay entitlement has changed:
- Where a worker has been employed by their employer for at least 52 weeks, the reference period has increased from 12 weeks to 52 weeks
- Where a worker has been employed by their employer for fewer than 52 weeks, the reference period is the number of weeks for which the worker has been employed
Future Legislation to look out for….
Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s)
NDA’s have been abused in recent years and a change was needed. The Government issued an official response on their proper use. Although there are legitimate reasons for including NDA’s in contracts, they cannot be used to silence victims of discrimination and harassment. They also cannot unreasonably prevent the employee from working in the same sector for an unreasonable length of time.
Things you need to consider are below:
- Ensure that your confidentiality clause does not prevent someone from making a disclosure to the police or to a regulated legal or health professional who are also bound by a duty of confidentiality
- Set out limits clearly so employees understand when they can make a disclosure
- Ensure that employees take legal advice (compulsory) before entering into any settlement agreement.
This legislation will be enforced as soon as Parliamentary time allows.
Enhanced Redundancy Protection
In July 2019, the Government announced its response to an earlier consultation on extending redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents. This proposes:
- To extend the redundancy protection period for six months once a new mother has returned to work
- To afford the same protection to those taking adoption leave
- To extend redundancy protection for those returning from shared parental leave. However, the Government is to consult further with stakeholders on the design of this protection over coming months.
A pregnant woman will be protected from the time that she notifies her employer of her pregnancy. If these proposals do come into law, it will mean a substantial increased length of time for which women will have enhanced rights during a redundancy situation.
This could have a considerable impact on workforces that are predominately female. A larger number of women would be entitled to a suitable alternative position which may not be possible in all circumstances.
Tackling one-sided Flexibility
The Good Work Plan states that legislation will be introduced to allow all employees and workers with varying hours and shift patterns (including agency and zero hours workers) to formally request a more fixed working pattern after 26 weeks of work for the same employer.
There would also be a right to compensation for shifts cancelled without reasonable notice. It is anticipated that the new legislation will mirror the flexible working regulations, which will be extended to workers.
In addition, the government is currently consulting on the issue of ‘one-sided flexibility’. This exists within some parts of the labour market, where employers misuse flexible working arrangements, creating an instability in working hours, income insecurity and a reluctance among workers to assert basic employment rights. The consultation has ended.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has launched a consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace and is looking at whether the current laws on this issue provide the protections they are supposed to. The consultation will consider whether there are any gaps in the laws and look at what more can be done at a practical level to ensure employees are properly protected at work, so that everyone feels safe and can thrive.