In the same time as it takes to boil an egg, let me present an overview of "the biggest package of workplace reforms for over twenty years".
Following an independent review of employment practices undertaken by Matthew Taylor - the Head of the Royal Society of Arts - the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices was presented to the Government in July 2017. After extensive consultation, the Government published "The Good Work Plan" in December 2018. No, it is not a guide on how to prioritise your work or keep your desk tidy: it is "a vision for the future of the UK labour market"!
There are three main themes:
- people can expect to be given fair and decent work
- arrangements between employers and workers should be more clear, so that both can better understand the working relationship
- when things go wrong, the employment tribunal procedure should be more efficient, and tribunal awards should be easier to enforce
So, how is this to be achieved? The Government is intending to introduce lots of legislation. This will provide (amongst other things):
- employees and workers are to be given a written statement of their terms and conditions on or before their first day of work (currently, employers have two months to provide this, and only to employees, not workers)
- a right for those working variable hours to request a more predictable and stable contract after they have continuously worked for the same employer for 26 weeks
- for there to be a gap of up to four weeks rather than the current one week between work assignments without breaking continuous employment
- greater transparency in relation to holiday pay entitlement, with the calculation being based on the last 52 weeks’ pay, rather than the current 12-week period
- staff working in the hospitality sector must be allowed to keep all of their tips (no sneaky deductions allowed by employers)
- more people should have more of a say when it comes to big workplace decisions (for example, a transfer of the business, decisions to relocate or restructure, etc)
- the confusing definition of "worker" will be revised to make it more consistent for employment law and tax purposes
- much clearer information will have to be given to agency workers in the form of a ‘Key Facts Page’ which will include an illustration of what they might expect to take home in their pay packet (so no nasty surprises when it comes to unexpected deductions of agency fees, etc)
So what is the most important thing to look out for? Probably the date by which this will come into effect: 6 April 2020. That’s just over six months away.
Some legislation has already come into effect as a result of The Good Work Plan (e.g. changes to pay slips, and the introduction of ‘naming and shaming’ employers who don’t pay employment tribunal awards). Everything else should be in place by next April - at least in theory: whether or not it is in place by then is anyone’s guess whilst we are in the middle of this uncertain political time. But I am convinced that these changes will be coming sooner rather than later, so you need to start thinking about what changes will need to be made to HR payroll systems, amendments to staff handbooks, preparation of standard documents such as contracts/statement of particulars of employment, updating policy and procedure documents, etc.