Did Someone Say New Employment Law?
Deafened by the Brexit gale, you could be forgiven for failing to notice that there have been some announcements dealing with employment law matters.
Just before Christmas 2018, the Government published it’s ‘Good Work Plan’, based on the previous Taylor Good Work Report, and then tabled three sets of Regulations.
The key measures are that from 6 April 2020:
- employees will have the right to a written statement of terms from the first day of employment, rather than (as currently) within the first two months
- extending the right to a written statement of terms to workers as well as employees
- increasing the reference period for calculating a week’s pay for holiday pay purposes from 12 weeks to 52 weeks – relevant where the pay is variable such as regular overtime
- abolishing the Swedish Derogation, which gives employers the ability to pay agency workers less than their own workers in certain circumstance
From 6 April 2019, the (rarely imposed) penalty for employer’s aggravating conduct will be increased from £5,000 to £20,000.
In addition, earlier this month the Government published a consultation paper on extending the right of employees on maternity leave who are selected for redundancy. The current rule is that they must be given priority over other redundant employees for suitable alternative employment.
The Government is considering extending this right to:
- women who have returned from maternity leave in the previous six months, not just those who are currently on maternity leave
- women who have told their employer they are pregnant
- employees on adoption leave, shared parental leave and longer periods of parental leave
There are however still a number of other proposals from the Taylor Good Work Report which have not resulted in Government proposals or consultation. This includes the thorny issue of ensuring the employment status tests are the same for employment and tax purposes, and to avoid employers misclassifying employees/workers as self-employed.
Still, this is a start and it does show that the normal business of government is working.
For most businesses, the measure which will have most impact will be the requirement, from April 2020, to issue a statement of terms or a contract from day one to both employees and workers. One practical way round this may be to ensure that your Offer Letters cover all the required elements and that they are sent to all new starts.
(c) Ben Thornber, Thornber HR Law