By now most employers will have some idea of the impending changes to employment law that make up the government’s Good Work Plan. As some of the changes will be introduced in April 2020, employers and HR professionals are advised to use this time to get their house in order. Here are the key changes employers need to start prepping for:
Changes to the rules around issuing a statement of main terms (SMT) will come into force from 6th April 2020 as from this point onwards employees will have a day one right to be provided with this document. The same right to an SMT will also be extended to workers for the first time on this date, whilst additional information such as clarification on training entitlements and probationary periods will be required as standard. With this in mind, employers should spend the intervening months amending any SMT templates accordingly, whilst also identifying any existing workers who will be entitled to an SMT once the new requirement is introduced.
The mandatory reference period for calculating holiday pay will also increase under the plan. From 6th April 2020 employers will have to use a reference period of 52 weeks, as opposed to 12, when calculating holiday pay for staff whose work irregular hours or whose pay may vary due to overtime. Ahead of this, employers will need to ensure the correct mechanisms are in place to accurately record all working time, whilst also reconsidering how regularly overtime is offered in the intervening months, as this may lead to increased holiday pay in the future.
Individuals seeking agency work will have the right to receive a key information document from 6th April 2020 that includes clear details of the nature of the work they are accepting, whilst the use of Swedish Derogation Model contracts will also be banned. Agencies who currently engage agency workers under these contracts will need to provide them with a written statement by 30th April 2020, explaining that they are now entitled to the same basic pay as a direct recruit at the end user after 12 weeks on assignment.
Also announced as part of the Good Work plan was the right for all workers to request a more stable contract after 26 weeks’ service. However, an implementation date for this has yet to be announced. The idea behind this is to allow those in insecure employment to request a more fixed working pattern, such as agreeing on a minimum number of hours each week or set working days. Whilst there may be less scope to prepare for this, employers could spend time devising an appropriate procedure for hearing and deciding on requests. It is anticipated that the process will work similarly to the right to request flexible working. Therefore any existing policies on this should act as an ideal starting point.
Whilst employers may think they have plenty of time before the changes are implemented, the sooner that action is taken, the better. Failure to ensure that the appropriate changes are made can lead to claims at an employment tribunal.
Kate Palmer is Associate Director of Advisory at Peninsula.