What is the Good Work Plan?
In 2016, the government commissioned Taylor to undertake an independent review on the UK’s employment practices in light of the ever-changing modern economy. Taylor’s report contained many recommendations that, if adopted, could have a significant impact on many employees and employers. The government’s initial response, published in February 2018, promised to action nearly all of Taylor’s 53 recommendations. Fast forward to December 2018 and the government’s “Good Work Plan” (GWP) has finally arrived. The GWP outlines the government’s position on Taylor’s recommendations and is described as the government’s “vision for the future of the UK labour market”.
At present, the GWP is essentially a list of proposals with some being accompanied by draft legislation. However, with Brexit taking over the government’s agenda it is unsurprising that the finer details have yet to be ironed out. The GWP addresses all of Taylor’s recommendations but does not provide details on how or when the reforms will be implemented. The draft regulations that have been made available do not envisage the implementation of any changes until April 2020 at the earliest. In the current political climate, anything could happen between now and then but, at present, the main proposals are:
- Clarification on employment status (a separate investigation has been launched into this ever-changing and complicated area).
- To give workers the right to a statement of employment particulars from day one of engagement. Additionally, employees to be provided with the statement on day one rather than within two months of commencing employment.
- Extension of the permissible break in service for the calculation of continuous service from one week to four weeks.
- To create a right for workers to request a more stable and predictable contract after 26 weeks of service.
- A ban on employers making deductions from staff tips.
- Increasing the reference period to calculate holiday pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks.
- Lowering the employee support required to set up information and consultation arrangements from 10% to 2% of employees (with the 15 employees minimum threshold remaining in place).
- Stronger sanctions issued where an employer has previously lost similar cases.
- Increased use of aggravated breach penalties and a rise in the penalty from £5,000 to £20,000.
- More liberal use of costs orders.
- A “name and shame” scheme for employers who fail to pay tribunal awards.
So, what should employers do to prepare? At this point, employers should ensure that they keep on top of ongoing developments, as and when they happen. Brexit continues to cause uncertainty, not least in the progress of new legislation, but the publication of the government’s plans at least means this issue is likely to be towards the top of the agenda once the current parliamentary impasse has ended.