The Government has recently published its response to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices (see our previous article on the Taylor Review here), along with four consultation documents. The consultations are open until 1 June 2018, and cover agency workers, employment status, enforcement of employment rights and increasing transparency in the UK labour market.
According to its response and its accompanying press release, the Government will:
- introduce the right to request a more predictable contract for all workers. Whilst this goes further than the Taylor Review recommendation for those on zero hours’ contracts to request a contract that guarantees hours that better reflect the hours worked, it is not clear what it means in practice;
- help enforce workers’ rights to paid holiday and sick pay (the Taylor Review recommended that HMRC should be responsible for enforcing workers’ rights to holiday pay and sick pay. The Government’s response says that it accepts the case for the state taking responsibility for enforcing these rights for the most vulnerable workers, and the issue will form part of the consultation);
- adopt the Taylor Review proposal to introduce a ‘naming and shaming’ scheme for employers who fail to pay Employment Tribunal awards. There is also a proposal to increase Employment Tribunal fines for employers showing malice, spite or gross oversight and to consider increasing penalties for employers who have previously lost similar cases (Tribunals seem to have been reluctant to impose penalties under the current regime, so it is not clear whether increasing the penalties will result in change);
- the Government has accepted that the pay reference period for calculating holiday pay for workers without normal working should be increased from 12 weeks to 52 weeks to take account of seasonal changes, and will consult on the details.
- ask the Low Pay Commission to consider the impact of a higher minimum wage for hours that are not guaranteed by the worker’s contract; and
- define ‘working time’ for flexible workers who find jobs through an app or online, so they know when they should be being paid.
In terms of family-friendly rights, the Government are proposing to:
- launch a new campaign to encourage more take up of shared parental leave (current take up is estimated at just 2%); and
- make sure new and expectant mothers know their rights (but there are no plans to increase the time limit for those bringing Tribunal claims related to pregnancy or maternity discrimination);
One of the main issues highlighted by the Taylor Review was in relation to employment status.
The review stated that the legal tests for the different types of status (whether someone is an employee, worker or self-employed) should be set out in law, rather than being determined by Employment Tribunals applying the tests on a case by case basis.
The government has launched a consultation on employment status which asks 64 questions, including looking at issues with the current regime, exploring whether to introduce legislation covering the main principles of the current tests, and whether there should be alignment across the definitions for tax and employment purposes.
As to whether the Good Work Plan is good news for employers, the short answer is we will have to wait and see what the outcome of the consulations are! However, we will of course be keeping you up to date as things develop, particularly around which proposals may be implemented and when.
If you would like to talk through a situation you are dealing with, or if you need advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected]).