A series of legislative changes have been announced by the government to bolster workers’ rights. The raft of measures, set out in the ‘Good Work Plan’, aim to increase protection for agency employees, those on zero-hours contracts and gig economy workers. These include:
- the repeal of the exemption contained in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which currently denies workers contracted to an agency the right to the same pay as workers who are employed directly by companies
- the requirement for firms to issue a written statement of rights to workers on their first day of employment detailing their entitlements such as sick leave and pay, and maternity or paternity leave
- the requirement for companies to calculate holiday pay based on a 52-week period (currently 12 weeks)
- an extension of the period required to break continuity of employment for the purpose of accruing employment rights to four weeks (previously one week)
- a ban on deductions from staff tips by employers
- an increase of the maximum fine that can be imposed by employment tribunals on employers who have acted with “malice, site or gross oversight” to £25,000 (previously £5,000).
Building on the recommendations made in the Taylor Review, published in July 2017, the Good Work Plan makes proposals to upgrade the enforcement of worker rights, including a call for a single enforcement body to be established to police the protection of vulnerable workers. It also calls for the introduction of penalties to be imposed on employers found in breach of employment agency legislation, such as non-payment of wages and holiday pay.
The Good Work Plan accepts that modern working practices should be reflected in any new measures. It confirms that clarification is needed to help employers identify the employment status of their workforce which, in turn, will help to determine worker rights eligibility. To this end, it upholds the Taylor Review’s findings that differences between the various employment status tests be reduced to an absolute minimum.