Good Work Plan: what the new workplace laws mean for employers

Workplace practices are set to change when the government introduces new regulations for workers, increasing the compliance burden for employers. Kate Palmer, associate director of advisory at Peninsula, explains the implications and potential pitfalls

The announcement of a range of new workplace laws by the government, contained within their Good Work Plan, outlines a number of key changes which will take effect under future legislation.

Employers need to understand these rights and ensure they have reviewed their current workplace practices so they can implement the new laws, as and when they are introduced. 

There will be a number of new administrative burdens placed on employers.

In April 2020, the right to receive a written statement of main terms is being extended to those with worker status, and the new laws will make this a day-one right for workers and employees meaning businesses will have to ensure they are organised with their employment documentation.

Additional information will soon have to be included within these statements, such as notice periods and probation conditions, while businesses providing agency workers to end-users will be required to provide a Key Facts Page to all workers.

With a new right for workers to request a more stable contract once they reach 26 weeks’ service being introduced, employers will undoubtedly spend more time handling these requests and carrying out contract discussions.

A couple of long-standing calculation provisions will also change in the future.

Holiday pay reference period

The holiday pay reference period will increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks causing a change in calculations for those in payroll departments, and the period to break continuous employment will increase from one week to four weeks.

While these changes recognise the increasing flexibility of modern work, employers who fail to apply the new time periods will face significant risks where, as a result, they incorrectly calculate holiday pay or fail to apply employment rights properly based on continuous service. 

Employment status tests

The current employment status tests, an area of confusion and uncertainty for many employers, will receive legislation to improve clarity.

As a key area, employers will hope the new law makes the task of determining employment status clearer, and easier, for all parties leading to lower risks.

The ban on making tip deductions was confirmed while a future prohibition on the use of Swedish derogation contracts, or ‘Pay Between Assignment’ contracts, for agency workers was also announced.

While no specific dates were confirmed by the government for the implementation of the new legislation, employers will be keen to ensure they remain aware of the changes and the implementation dates as these are announced.

Sanction regime

A failure to implement these new laws properly will leave employers open to risks such as internal grievances and external employment tribunal claims.

There will also be new, higher penalties introduced for those who breach rights, with the maximum penalty for an aggravated breach quadrupling to £20,000 and new legal sanctions to penalise employers who commit repeated breaches.

About the author

Kate Palmer is associate director of advisory at Peninsula

Find out more about Peninsula’s employment law services at 0800 028 2420 or go online to the Peninsula Knowledge Centre to find out more about critical employment law issues

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