LEGAL COLUMN: Proposed changes to employment law
The modern world has resulted in new working styles and employment law has had to develop to ensure workers remain protected, writes employment partner Joan Pettingill.
This was demonstrated by the Court of Appeal’s decision that Uber drivers were workers, not self-employed, and entitled to increased rights, such as holiday pay.
The Taylor Report provided recommendations for change to the UK employment framework. The Government’s recently published Good Work Plan provides responses to these recommendations. It focuses on three areas of improvement: that ‘all work should be fair and decent’, the law should be more transparent and provide greater ‘clarity for employers and workers,’ and improved ‘access to justice’ by implementing ‘fairer enforcement’ of employment law.
The aim is to better protect workers’ rights. Currently employees must receive a written statement setting out the key terms and conditions of their employment within two months of starting work. The Plan proposes to extend this to the first day of work.
Workers expected to work varying hours each week have little security or certainty over their hours. The Plan proposes that such workers can request a more fixed working pattern from their employer after 26 weeks of service.
Paid holiday ensures sufficient rest and relaxation. Holiday pay is calculated on an average week’s pay in the 12 weeks prior to each holiday being taken. Seasonal workers or those working reduced hours can therefore receive less holiday pay if they take holiday at times when less has been available than at a time of year when they work increased hours. The Plan proposes a 52-week reference period to prevent large fluctuations in holiday pay.
The Plan also proposes an awareness campaign to increase the understanding of holiday pay entitlement. In addition, it proposes a new state enforcement system for holiday pay, similar to that used for National Minimum Wage, which could result in financial penalties and naming and shaming of errant businesses. It will therefore become essential that employers correctly calculate holiday entitlement and pay.
Legislation is needed for the proposals to become law; however, the first piece is due to come into force on April 6 2020.
Article by employment partner Joan Pettingill. She can be contacted on 0114 228 3252 or [email protected]