On 17 December 2018 the Government published the Good Work Plan promising the “biggest overhaul of employment law in 20 years”.
In a time when the UK is facing COVID-19, the new concept of “furlough leave” and unprecedented state intervention in the economy, we could be forgiven for not remembering that much of the Good Work Plan came into force on 6 April 2020. These changes include:
- All workers are entitled to receive a written statement of terms in the same way as an employee for anyone starting work on or after 6 April 2020. (The new rules do not apply to existing workers who started work before 6 April 2020.) These statements need to be provided on or before they commence wok (whereas it used to have to be provided after one month’s service). Workers could potentially bring claims against employers that fail to provide this and claims for detriment if they are dismissed for demanding them.
- The information in these written statements (often referred to as section 1 statements) and which are usually continued within contracts of employment has also changed and (as well as the information previously required) now need to include:
- any probation period including conditions in relation to the same and duration
- the days of the week being worked, whether hours/days are variable (and, if so, how they vary)
- any benefits including non-contractual benefits
- any training entitlement which is required to complete
Information that can be provided in a separate document includes:
- any other paid leave
- any other training entitlement (which can be provided within two months)
- Holiday pay will now be calculated by working out the average of a worker’s last 52 weeks of pay as opposed to the last 12 weeks. This is designed to ensure that casual workers are not put at a disadvantage when taking holiday at a less busy time of the year. This is likely to be particularly relevant in the hospitality and agriculture industries.
- The end of the Swedish Derogation. In other words, all agency workers will need to receive the same pay and conditions as equivalent permanent workers after 12 weeks, even if they are paid by their agency during any gaps between assignments.
- Agency workers will also be entitled to a ‘Key Information Document’ which identifies the relevant agency worker’s employment status, the minimum expected rate of pay, the identity of the employment business and which business will be paying them. The document must also set out annual leave and any benefits the agency worker will receive. It must also identify any deductions that the relevant company will make from the agency worker’s pay and the legal basis for any deductions (for example, PAYE if applicable).
While these changes may not actually represent the biggest overhaul of employment law in 20 years, they represent significant changes to the rights of casual and agency workers. Despite COVID-19, we recommend that employers take time to consider whether their treatment of workers is still lawful.
Other changes that came into force on April 2020 include:
- Termination payments over £30,000 will be subject to class 1A employer national insurance contributions
- A week’s pay (used for various points including statutory redundancy pay) has increased to £538.
- Increase to the unfair dismissal cap to £88,519.
- Increases to statutory sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, adoption pay and shared parental pay rates.
- Increases to national minimum wages with the national living wage (for those aged over 25) increases from £8.21 to £8.72. There have also been changes to the other age brackets and for apprentices.
- Bereavement leave and pay is available for parents who suffer the loss of a child. The leave should be taken as a single block or as two separate weeks and must be used within 56 weeks of the child’s death.
As a reminder, the changes to IR35/off-payroll working have been deferred to April 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Although undoubtedly employers are incredibly busy dealing with COVID-19 and related issues, we do, however, recommend that employers review their contractual documentation to ensure it is up to date.
Should you require any assistance in this area, we obviously will be very happy to assist. If you have any questions about your working arrangements or the above changes, please feel free to contact us, either through your usual contact or by contacting our employment team.