Karen Penfold reveals what it is and what you need to do to be prepared for the shake up

There is a big shake up of employment law coming on 6 April 2020 – and while that might seem a way off, there’s plenty to prepare for and less than a year to get everything in place.

The reforms are part of the Good Work Plan, which were set out in December 2018 in response to the independent Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. The review looked at new forms of work on worker rights and responsibilities, as well as on employer obligations, the rise of digital platforms and impacts of new working models.

The Taylor Review made 53 recommendations to the government, with 51 of these are being implemented as the Good Work Plan. The aim is to ensure individuals have better access to, and a better understanding of, their employment relationships. In addition, it sets out seven principles to address the challenges facing the UK labour market. Let’s take a look at the key changes.

Employment contracts

Employment contracts will need to be more robust, with a more comprehensive statement of written particulars. They should include information on paid leave, probationary periods, entitlements and benefits. These will also have to be issued to ‘workers’ when the new legislation comes into force, and contracts will have to be given to employees on the first day of employment. Currently, you have eight weeks to issue a contract, this will no longer be the case.

Employees will have more rights to request a stable contract after 26 weeks of continuous service. This is designed to protect those on irregular/zero hours contracts.

Continuous service

Breaking continuous service will be extended to a gap of four weeks from the present one week. This is to stop employers dismissing and reengaging employees immediately without being at risk of giving them full employment rights, such as the right to claim unfair dismissal after two years of service or the right to statutory maternity pay.

Agency workers

Agency workers will also be more protected. The business will be required to provide them with a ‘key facts page’, which should include information about the contract they are employed under, fees and minimum rates of pay.

Currently, agency workers are entitled to receive the same level of pay as a permanent worker after 12 weeks continuous service unless they opt out of this right and choose a guaranteed level of pay, also known as ‘Swedish derogation’. Under the new rules, there will be no opt out as this route often leaves agency workers financially worse off.

In addition, the reference period for holiday pay calculations will increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. This will prevent agency workers receiving different rates of pay during holidays based on hours worked in the three months previous.

Consultation arrangements

Currently, to request workplace discussions about topics such as redundancy proposals, a minimum of 10% of the workforce is required. It seems this will reduce to 2% from April 2020, which could have a big impact on smaller businesses. 

What do you need to do?

• Review your team members’ current terms and conditions, to prepare and identify any changes you will need to implement

• Assess your workforce. Do you use many agency staff ,or have zero hours/irregular hours contracts in place?

• Review your policies, procedures, and staff handbook, and identify any of these that require updating to reflect the new legislation

• Identify team members who will have responsibility for recruitment and employees, and make sure they are aware and trained on the changes

• Seek expert HR advice to help understand and implement the new laws in 2020.

Big legislative updates like these, where 51 recommendations are being implemented and all businesses, large and small, need to ensure they are fully up to date and compliant, really highlight why outsourcing your HR can be highly beneficial.

With CODE Total HR and Employment law service, you can rest assured your contracts and policies will be set up correctly and you will have access to expert support as and when you need it. 

To find out more about CODE Total HR and Employment services, visit www.codeuk.com/hr