The Good Work Plan

This important change to employment law is looming, so what do businesses need to know?

In just five months, what has been dubbed the “biggest overhaul of employment law in 20 years” is set to come into place. The Good Work Plan comes into force on the 6 April, 2020, and the BPMA held a seminar outlining some of the pertinent changes for its members at the recent Merchandise World exhibition. The Good Work Plan is billed as “the first time that the government has placed equal importance on both quantity and quality of work”. It has asked the independent Industrial Strategy Council to consider how to measure quality of work, which it considers is made up of the five principles: satisfaction; fair pay; participation and progression; wellbeing, safety and security, and voice and autonomy.

Kate Marchant, regional HR consultant at the BPMA’s partner, Croner, revealed some of the areas that companies needed to consider when the plan comes into force. Contract terms From 6 April, on day one of their employment, employees must receive a document that sets out all of the key terms of their contract. This document must be given from day one of their contracts. Currently, employers only need to provide key terms of employee’s contract within two months. Marchant said businesses should liaise with HR to be ready to implement this change and be mindful of any additional administrative burdens this could place upon them.

The contract will need to include more details on:

• Hours of work
• Paid leave
• Benefits
• Probation
• Training

Statutory leave From 6 April, 2020, parents will be entitled to statutory bereavement leave if a child of under 18 dies. This will be applicable for any worker who has reached the 26-week service requirement. Employees will be able to take two weeks of leave in blocks of one week within 52 weeks of the death, with pay at the statutory rate. Zero-hours contracts All workers have the right to request a ‘more stable’ contract, such as a minimum number of hours or days worked. Workers will have this right after 26 weeks’ service. Companies should be prepared to introduce a system for processing these requests, which can be similar to how flexible working requests are currently handled.

While businesses can refuse this, they will need to provide sound business reasons for doing so. Also, like flexible working, it looks like there will be a three-month timeframe with which to deal with the request. Employment status There has been a lot of scrutiny on what constitutes self-employment. Employment status checks will be clarified, with more guidance on what defines workers, employees and the self-employed.

This will probably focus on how much control the employer has. EU settlement scheme With the UK due to leave the EU on 31 October (at the time of the seminar)Marchant called for businesses to get settled status applications for staff in as soon as possible. Even if this didn’t happen to that timeline, it remained
important to get applications underway. EU nationals with five years’ residency are entitled to apply for settled status.

Those with less can apply for pre-settled status. In the event of a no-deal, online applications must be submitted by 31 December, 2020. If there is a deal, applicants have until 30 June, 2021. However, there is not expected to be any radical change to employment law after Brexit as EU law is set to convert to UK. In the long-term, the impact is less clear. Continuous service

The break in continuous service will increase. Currently, a gap of just one week can break an individual’s continuity of service. This can restrict their access to key rights of employment, and can occur despite the employee working regularly on and off for the same employer. As of April 2020, the gap will increase to four weeks, making it easier for those employees who work sporadically to qualify for more employment rights.

Businesses should review current processes and liaise with HR and payroll to ensure they are aware of this and are not unlawfully denying rights to workers. They should also re-evaluate current processes in light of this to avoid falling into traps – you may end up having to provide rights and entitlements when you don’t intend to because of previous allowances when taking on casual workers. With so much to allow for, it is important that businesses avail themselves of the best advice.

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