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September 2019

Introducing the Good Work Plan

The Government’s Good Work Plan is due to take effect in April 2020 which will implement a number of employment reforms.

Since the publication of the Good Work Plan, there have been further regulations introduced which relate to it, i.e. the Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019, The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 ,  and Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019  which contain provisions for implementing some of the proposals.

Overall, the Government have announced their intention to “significantly change the enforcement landscape”.

All sounds rather ominous but what does it actually mean?

It’s all too easy to bash these changes or consider them to be pro-employee and therefore contra-employer. To start with, I think it’s important to consider where the Good Work Plan actually came from as well as what’s changing.

We’ll go into more detail in subsequent articles about the key changes coming from April next year; however, there are some key themes that the Government have focused on following the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices.

In all, seven recommendations were made:

1. Good work for all
a.      The review suggests a national strategy to provide good work for all “for which government needs to be held accountable”
b.      It takes the following into consideration when it talks about “good work”: wages, employment quality, education and training, working conditions, work life balance and consultative participation and collective representation
c.       Everyone should enjoy a “baseline” of protection and be given routes to enable progression at work.

2. Dependent contractors
a.      It suggests people who work for platform-based companies, such as Deliveroo and Uber, be classed as dependent contractors
b.      Individuals who prefer flexible working should be allowed to continue but they should be granted fairness at work
c.       There should be a clear distinction made between dependent contractors and those who are legitimately self-employed.

3. National Living Wage
a.      The National Living Wage is “a powerful tool” to raise the financial base line of low paid workers
b.      Strategies must be put in place, particularly for low paid sectors, to make sure workers do not get stuck on this rate of pay
c.       Individuals must feel that they can make progress.

4. Cost of employment
a.      The government should avoid further increasing the “employment wedge”, which is the non-wage costs of employing a person. The review highlights the apprenticeship levy as an expense companies have raised as an issue
b.      The government must provide additional protections for dependent contractors.

5. Good corporate governance
a.      The government does not need national regulation to provide good work
b.      It says companies must practise responsible corporate governance, good management and strong employment relations within the organisation.

6. Developing skills
a.      Everyone should feel they have realistically attainable ways to strengthen their future prospects at work
b.      Individuals should also be able to develop their skills through “formal and informal learning” as well as “on the job and off the job activities.”

7. A healthy workplace
a.      The UK needs to develop a more proactive approach to workplace health which will benefit companies, workers and the wider public interest.

In reviewing these recommendations, we can begin to see where the Good Work Plan came from and the fact that the changes are driven by improving the working landscape for all.

For those businesses who care about their staff and want to look after them, they’ll already be “no brainers” because there is a fundamental driver to ensure that people are treated fairly. Sadly, not every business takes that approach and it’s those businesses and their staff that really need these changes to not only be implemented but also to be enforced.  More information on enforcement plans is in the next article. 

Good Work Plan – the key changes

So now we know more about where the Good Work Plan came from, we can look in more depth about what’s going to change.  This article focuses on the most important changes to consider.

  1. Written statement of terms and conditions 

From April 2020, things will change for written statements of terms and conditions, i.e. what’s commonly known as the contract of employment.

Day one right
Currently, you need to give employees a written statement of their terms and conditions within two months of their start date. The new legislation makes this a day one right, i.e. on or before their start date, they must receive a written statement from you explaining their terms and conditions of employment.

Workers

Previously, the right to a written statement was only for employees. This will now be extended to workers (for definitions see here https://beta.acas.org.uk/checking-your-employment-rights). 

Additional information

The written statement must contain the following additional information:

  • How long a job is expected to last (or end date of a fixed term contract)
  • How much notice is required?
  • Details of eligibility for sick leave and pay
  • Details of other types of paid leave (e.g. maternity/paternity leave)
  • Duration and conditions of any probationary period
  • Remuneration (not just pay)
  • Which specific days and times workers are required to work.

Keeping HR Simple says: many of our clients already issue contracts of employment on day one; however we need to ensure this is being done as a standard for every employee and worker. 

  1. Zero hours contracts

For employers who have people working on zero hours arrangements, legislation will be introduced to allow employees and workers with variable hours and shift patterns to request a more fixed working pattern after a period of 26 weeks of work for the same employer.

This means that any employee or worker with a working pattern that varies can, after 26 weeks of working for you, ask you to consider giving them a more fixed working pattern. 

We don’t yet know how this will work in practice but we anticipate that the new legislation will be similar to flexible working requests in that you’ll have a formal mechanism to consider a request for a fixed working pattern and, if rejecting it, explain the reasons for doing so.

  1. Holiday pay

We cover this in more detail in separate articles. 

  1. Redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents

The government response in the Good Work Plan reported that it is reviewing the legislation relating to redundancy protection and considering whether this is sufficient.

In January 2019 the government published a consultation looking at the possibility of extending redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents. It’s proposed that current protection relating to redundancy should be extended to cover the period of pregnancy and six months afterwards.

The consultation has now closed and responses are being considered so this is a “watch this space” update for now.

  1. Enforcement

As we mentioned previously, the Good Work Plan aims to significantly change the enforcement landscape.

The Taylor Review called on the government to improve access to justice.

The government proposes in the Good Work Plan to enhance enforcement of statutory holiday pay (and possibly sick pay) by giving enforcement powers to HMRC. The approach will mirror the financial penalties and enforcement approach that already applies to underpayment of the National Minimum Wage.

Importantly and happily, there will also be support to aid compliance for businesses genuinely trying to understand and comply with the law.

The three main enforcement bodies, the EAS, HMRC and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) will work more closely together, share information and cooperate more closely with the Insolvency Service and Acas in order to improve enforcement.

In March 2019,ministers confirmed the Government is exploring options for a single labour market enforcement body.

Legislation to increase the maximum level of penalty imposed by employment tribunals in cases of aggravated breach to £20,000

The Good Work Plan stated that the government proposes to increase the maximum level of penalty that employment tribunals can impose in instances of an aggravated breach from £5,000 to £20,000. There will be a new obligation on ETs to consider the use of sanctions where employers have lost a previous case on broadly comparable facts.

Naming and shaming

The Good Work Plan announced that employers that default over payment of employment tribunal awards will be targeted under new proposals. Such employers risk being identified if they fail to offer a satisfactory explanation within 14 days of receiving a notification.

As a result a naming scheme was introduced whereby from 18 December 2018 employees can register employers with BEIS who have failed to pay at least £200 of a tribunal award.

Keeping an eye on what may be coming up

Apart from the Good Work Plan (which is in itself pretty significant!) there are some other changes and proposals coming up that we’re keeping a close eye on.

Tax on termination payments

If you are paying a termination payment to an employee after 6th April 2020, any part of that payment over the sum of £30,000 will be subject to employer NICs. This is a delayed change from April 2018.

Parental bereavement provision

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act will entitle employees who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy, to two weeks’ unpaid leave, as a right from day one of their employment.

The leave will be paid at the statutory rate if the employee has 26 weeks’ service. The government is aiming for the new law to be in force in 2020.

Employed parents are already entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, including dealing with a dependant’s death, as a day one right.

Currently on hold – grandparental leave

There was a proposal in 2018 to extend shared parental leave to working grandparents. This is currently on hold with no introduction date set for any changes.

And finally..

The Government Equalities Office has published a consultation on whether the current laws designed to protect workforces from sexual harassment at work are adequate.

The consultation asks:

  • how to ensure organisations take all possible steps to prevent harassment
  • whether there should be a mandatory duty on organisations to protect workers from harassment, accompanied by a statutory Code of Practice
  • whether employers should be required to monitor and report externally on preventing and dealing with instances of sexual harassment
  • how to strengthen the law on third-party harassment
  • whether interns and volunteers are adequately protected
  • whether there should be a timeframe longer than the current three months for bringing a harassment, discriminations or victimisation claim in a tribunal.

The consultation closes on 2 October 2019 and can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace

April 2019

Our latest Employment Law update was issued last week by email, the headlines are below.

Updates to Statutory Pay Rates

From April 2019, a number of Statutory Pay Rates will go up as explained below.  This information is particularly important to you if you have apprentices who are paid the apprenticeship rates, if you’re paying minimum wage for any roles or when you have a member of staff taking statutory entitlement to leave such as sickness, maternity, paternity etc.

You can find more detailed information here.

 National Minimum Wage
AgeCurrent AmountFrom 1st April 2019
16 – 17£4.20 per hour£4.35 per hour
18 – 20*£5.90 per hour£6.15 per hour
Apprentice**£3.70 per hour£3.90 per hour
21 – 24£7.38 per hour£7.70 per hour
   
 National Living Wage
AgeCurrent AmountFrom 1st April 2019
25+£7.83 per hour£8.21 per hour
 
*Development rate
**Applies to apprentices under 19 years old or over 19 but in the first year of apprenticeship
Family Friendly Pay RatesCurrent AmountFrom 1st April 2019
Statutory Maternity Pay£145.18 per week£148.68 per week
Statutory Paternity Pay£145.18 per week£148.68 per week
Statutory Adoption Pay£145.18 per week£148.68 per week
Shared Parental Pay£145.18 per week£148.68 per week
Sick Pay RatesCurrent AmountFrom 6th April 2019
Statutory Sick Pay£89.35 per week£92.05 per week

NOVEMBER 2018

Our latest Employment Law update was issued last week by email, the headlines are below.

Updates to Statutory Pay Rates

From 1st April 2019, a number of Statutory Pay Rates will go up as explained below.  This information is particularly important to you if you have apprentices who are paid the apprenticeship rates, if you’re paying minimum wage for any roles or when you have a member of staff taking statutory entitlement to leave such as sickness, maternity, paternity etc.

For any questions about increasing statutory pay rates or anything employment-law related, please get in touch using the link below.

Best wishes

Katherine

 National Minimum Wage
AgeCurrent AmountFrom 1st April 2019
16 – 17£4.20 per hour£4.35 per hour
18 – 20*£5.90 per hour£6.15 per hour
Apprentice**£3.70 per hour£3.90 per hour
21 – 24£7.38 per hour£7.70 per hour
   
 National Living Wage
AgeCurrent AmountFrom 1st April 2019
25+£7.83 per hour£8.21 per hour
 
*Development rate
**Applies to apprentices under 19 years old or over 19 but in the first year of apprenticeship
Family Friendly Pay RatesCurrent AmountFrom 1st April 2019
Statutory Maternity Pay£140.98 per week£145.18 per week
Statutory Paternity Pay£140.98 per week£145.18 per week
Statutory Adoption Pay£140.98 per week£145.18 per week
Shared Parental Pay£140.98 per week£145.18 per week
Sick Pay RatesCurrent AmountFrom 1st April 2019
Statutory Sick Pay£89.35 per week£92.05 per week

APRIL 2018

With the month of April comes a number of employment law updates that all employers need to be aware of and to make sure that you’re planning and accounting for them.  We provide an Employer Quick Reference Guide April 18 which captures the key information you need in one accessible document.  Please feel free to pass this on to colleagues or other business contacts who may find it useful.

Statutory Rate Increases

The main points relate to increases to statutory rates as follows:

Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay – £145.18 per week;

Sick Pay – £92.05 per week;

Redundancy pay – the cap on a week’s pay increases to £508 from 6th April.

National Minimum Wage Increases

National Minimum Wages from Apr 18
Apprentice Rate£3.70/hr
Employees aged under 18 & no longer compulsory school age£4.20/hr
Employees aged 18 – 20£5.90/hr
Employees aged 21 – 24£7.38/hr
Employees aged 25+£7.83/hr

Pension contributions

From the 6th April 2018 there will be changes to Workplace Pension Contributions.

The minimum amount that both you and your employee contribute will be going up as follows:

Date effectiveEmployer minimum contribution Staff contribution Total minimum contribution
Currently until 5 April 20181%1%2%
6 April 2018 to 5 April 20192%3%5%
6 April 2019 onwards3%5%8%

Both employer and employee can pay more into the scheme as long as the minimum total is met.  If you do pay more into the scheme, the employee can pay less as long as the total minimum is met.

What else is new?

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – I mentioned this in my last newsletter and we are also writing about this topic in other blog posts for your reference.  This will impact on every business to a greater or lesser extent so we all need to be up to speed and know exactly what we need to do.

Mental Health at Work – this is still a huge topic for 2018 and beyond and we’re seeing more and more issues with people being signed off for various mental health related reasons and we’re also working with more businesses who want to understand what they need to do and how they can support their staff and their well-being.  For more information on this, please do get in touch or if you’d like to read more about what Mind, the mental health charity have to say, visit their website here.

Brexit and Employment Law – obviously this is going to be a long and complex negotiation between the UK and the EU so predictions as to the impact on employment law are scarce just at the moment.  However we do know that action is underway to ensure that our existing employment legislation will continue to operate post Brexit so we’re not currently anticipating huge changes in this area.  Don’t quote us on that though!

Questions?

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions on any of the above and if you’d like to receive our regular newsletter, let us know!

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