The government’s Good Work Plan – business as usual for the time being

You may recall that last July (2017), Matthew Taylor published a Government-commissioned review called ‘Good Work’ which included numerous suggestions as to how our working lives could be improved.

The Government has now responded with a press release that they’ve called a ‘Good Work plan’. In particular, the Government says that vulnerable workers’ holiday and sick pay entitlement will be enforced for the first time, that it will produce a list of day-one rights – including holiday and sick-pay – and that all workers will have a right to request a more ‘stable contract’. It also says it will introduce a new naming and shaming scheme for employers who don’t pay employment tribunal awards and it will quadruple tribunal fines for spiteful employers. Precisely how these changes will be implemented is not clear from this press release.

Consultations

In addition, the Government has announced consultations on:

1. enforcement of employment rights
2. changes to the rights of agency workers
3. measures to increase transparency in the UK market
4. employment status

Employment status

Focusing briefly on that last consultation – employment status – you may recall that at the time of the Taylor review this received much attention in courts and tribunals, as well as in the media. It was on this that topic that we hoped for greater clarity in the law. Well, for the time being the law remains as it’s been for some time. Very briefly:

• Broadly speaking, there are three categories: self-employed; employee; and worker, which is in between the other two.
• Legislation gives little detail about the definitions, but tribunal and court judgments have added detail.
• Several factors are relevant in determining a person’s employment status, for example the degree of control exercised by the employer over the work and whether they have a right to send someone else to do the work instead of them. The Government provides further assistance on this website.

Using the right documents

Changes to the law on employment status could affect your choices and your documents. For example, you may have to update consultancy contracts and employment contracts, in particular zero-hours contracts. And you might have to change someone from one contract to another contract in accordance with the new definitions. To illustrate the importance of the matter, there was a case on that recently that established that if a worker isn’t given paid annual leave because the employer wrongly believes they’re self-employed, the employer may have to pay many years’ annual leave on termination of the employment contract.

But nothing’s changed with this press-release, and when it does we’ll let you know. And, perhaps more importantly; we have document templates covering relevant documents (such as the three examples above) which we’ll keep updated if the law changes.

Raphael Prais is a content lawyer at Epoq Legal Ltd.

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