Announced in December 2018, the government’s Good Work Plan promises to introduce a number of legislative changes that strengthen the rights of workers currently participating in unsecure employment.
A key part of the plan is the introduction of the right to request a more stable contract, which will be available to all workers that have accrued 26 weeks’ continuous service. Individuals will be able to submit a request for a more fixed working pattern, including a guaranteed number of hours each week or to regularly work on specific days e.g. Monday-Friday. The right is not expected to come into force until 2020, however when it does it is likely to work in a similar way to the current right to request flexible working. This means employers will need to genuinely consider any written request and confirm to workers whether or not this can be accepted within a 3-month timeline.
In addition, the government intend for the right to receive a written statement of terms to become a day one right for both employees and workers from 2020. Currently employers have 2 months to provide new employees with these written statements, however the government are removing this grace period in an attempt to increase transparency around terms of employment. There will also be stricter guidelines around what information needs to be contained within these statements, including the addition of a key facts page for agency workers.
The mandatory reference period for calculating holiday pay will also increase under the plan. From 6th April 2020 employers will have to use a reference period of 52 weeks, as opposed to 12, when calculating holiday pay for staff whose work irregular hours or whose pay may vary due to overtime. This should allow a more balanced approach for zero-hours staff whose weekly working hours can differ significantly, ensuring holiday pay is a more accurate reflection of individuals’ true working patterns.
Also scheduled for 6th April 2020, the percentage of employees needed to make a request to introduce information and consultation with their employer will be reduced from 10% to 2%, meaning a greater number of smaller employers must be prepared to consult with their workforce on issues related to the organisation if requested.
The Good Work Plan has also confirmed that the required period to break continuous service will change from one week to four weeks in recognition of the increasing flexibility of modern work. This means employees who are engaged for sporadic periods will have a greater opportunity to build up service related rights and employers may need to change their business practices accordingly. There is currently no implementation date for this change.
Whilst 2020 may seem like a long way off employers should use this time to guarantee they are in a position to comply with these new requirements. Although you don’t need to do anything now, we will give you more detail on the changes as it becomes available and will ensure that your business is able to meet its new obligations.