NB. This article has been created for guidance purposes only. It must not be used as a substitute to obtaining legal or HR advice.
The background of the ‘Good Work Plan’
In July 2017, a government-commissioned independent review of modern working practices was published – ‘The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices’. The review’s leader, Matthew Taylor, made a number of recommendations to the government regarding working practices and employment law.
The government published its response to the Taylor Review in February 2018 where it confirmed all but one of the recommendations had been accepted. This response was published alongside four consultations on how best to bring about the suggested reforms, split into the following four categories:
- Employment status
- Increasing transparency in the labour market
- Agency workers
- Enforcement of employment rights
In December 2018, the government published its ‘Good Work Plan’ which drew on feedback from the above consultations. The document presented the government’s vision for the future of the UK labour market and set out the actions that would be taken to implement the recommendations in the Taylor Review.
Legislative changes that have already been implemented
Since the publication of the ‘Good Work Plan’, the government has made changes to employment legislation which contain provisions for implementing some of the proposals.
Changes have been made to the Employment Rights Act 1996 which affect payslip information. As of 6 April 2019, employers are required to issue itemised payslips to every worker, not just employees – this includes agency staff, casual and zero hours staff, contractors and freelancers who are on the payroll.
Additional information must be shown on a payslip for workers whose pay varies depending on the number of hours they have worked. Where this applies, the number of hours paid for on this basis (i.e. the amount of time worked) must be shown. There is no requirement to show any other hours; however, it can be useful to show them.
More information about these requirements can be found here.
Employer penalties for breaches
The ‘Good Work Plan’ made a commitment to increase the maximum penalty for ‘aggravated breaches’ of employment rights from £5,000 to £20,000. This change is reflected in Part 2 of The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 and applies to breaches of workers’ rights that took place on or after 6 April 2019.
Upcoming changes to legislation – 6 April 2020
This section outlines the changes to employment legislation, made due to the ‘Good Work Plan’, that are going to be enforced from 6 April 2020.
We have also included some actions that can be taken by schools and their employers to prepare for these changes; however, as all schools are different, with different employment structures, the most important thing schools should do is seek legal or HR advice on how the changes could affect their specific circumstances.
Written statement of employment particulars
Under current law, once an employee has worked for the same employer for longer than a month, they are entitled to a written statement covering details of their employment contract and rights – they must receive this statement within two months of starting work.
From 6 April 2020, the following changes are being made to the rules surrounding written statements:
- All workers employed on or after this date will be entitled to a written statement, not just employees
- Employers and workers must be provided with their written statement on or before their first day of employment
- The following additional information must be included on the written statement, alongside what is already required:
- How long the job is expected to last or the end date of a fixed-term contract
- How much notice an employer and worker are required to give to terminate the agreement
- Details of eligibility for sick leave and pay
- Details of other types of paid leave, e.g. maternity
- The duration and conditions of any probationary periods
- All remuneration (not just pay) – contributions in cash or kind
- The specific days and times they are required to work
- Details of training entitlements, training requirements and details of any training that will not be paid for by the employer
These changes will be enforced under the Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018.
To prepare for these changes:
- Review the school’s current contracts and recruitment process to ensure that all the required information is included in contracts.
- Put procedures in place to ensure the statement is issued on or before a new starter’s first day of work.
- Prepare a template written statement that can be customised and given to new starters on their first day of work – doing this means each written statement will contain the required information and will save time once the template has been created as the school does not have to create an entirely new document for each new starter.
Agency workers – key facts information
From 6 April 2020, all employment agencies must issue agency workers with a key information document. This document must include the following information:
- The type of contract the worker is employed under
- The minimum rate of pay that they can expect
- How they will be paid
- If they are paid through an intermediary company, any deductions or fees that will be taken
- An estimate or an example of what this means for their take home pay
This requirement will be enforced under The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2019.
To prepare for these changes:
Check that any employment agencies used by the school are ready for this change and will be compliant come April 2020.
Agency workers – the ‘Swedish derogation’
Currently, agencies are allowed to opt out of equalising the pay of agency staff with the permanent workforce when they have been with the same employer for more than 12 weeks, providing they paid the agency workers between assignments – this is known as the ‘Swedish derogation’. This opt out will cease on 6 April 2020 when the Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 come into force. From this date, all agency workers will have the right to receive the same pay and basic employment terms (with comparable employees) after 12 weeks, even those employed directly by employment agencies.
Schools need to make sure they understand when agency workers will be entitled to receive the same pay and basic employment terms – read the legislation and seek legal and HR advice as required.
Currently, workers with irregular hours have their holiday entitlement calculated using a 12-week average. From 6 April 2020, holiday entitlement will be based on the last 52 weeks or the total number of weeks worked so far. This will be enforced under the Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendments) Regulations 2018.
To prepare for these changes:
- Make sure temporary employees are closely tracked and take more care in ending temporary assignments when an individual has a qualifying service.
Information and consultation thresholds
To encourage engagement in the workplace, the percentage required for a valid employee request for an information and consultation agreement governing how their employer will consult about economic and employment-related matters will be lowered from 10 percent to 2 percent.
The requirement is provided for in The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.
To prepare for these changes:
- Be aware of the amendments to the thresholds in case the school receives a request to set up information and consultation arrangements.
Parental bereavement leave
In January 2020, the government passed The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations, also known as ‘Jack’s Law’, in memory of Jack Herd whose mother Lucy campaigned on the issue. These regulations will implement a statutory right to a minimum of 2 weeks’ leave for all employed parents if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer. These regulations will take effect from April 2020.
To prepare for these changes:
- Develop a bereavement leave policy that meets the new requirements.
- Be aware of the religious and cultural requirements around bereavement – certain religions require a specified time for mourning.
- Be aware of bereaved mothers’ maternity leave rights – mothers who lost a child after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or during maternity leave, will not lose their entitlement to maternity leave and pay. Rights to paternity leave and shared parental leave (where notice of leave has been given) will generally also be maintained in these circumstances.
Preparing for the changes
It is advisable for employers to start introducing these changes for staff gradually ahead of April 2020, as failure to do so after this date could result in tribunal claims.
Getting ready ahead of time also means preparation-related workload can be spread out over a number of months, rather than having a concentrated period of high workload closer to the implementation date.
Some of the changes are likely to mean some staff will have additional work to complete, e.g. those responsible for preparing written statements and staff responsible for preparing payslips (a change that has already been implemented). It is important that affected staff understand any additional duties they are required to undertake. Some of the preparations outlined above can also help in managing workload following the implementation date, such as creating a general template for the written statements.
Remember, school employers need to seek legal and HR advice to fully understand how the changes affect their organisation and what they need to do to be compliant.
ACAS (n.d.) ‘Employment law update 2019-2020’ <https://m.acas.org.uk/lawupdate> [Accessed: 22 November 2019]
Burges Salmon (2019) ‘Good Work Plan: the key proposals’ <https://www.burges-salmon.com/news-and-insight/legal-updates/good-work-plan-the-key-proposals/> [Accessed: 22 November 2019]
CIPD (2019) ‘Recent and forthcoming legislation’ <https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/about/legislation-updates> [Accessed: 22 November 2019]
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2018) ‘Payslips’
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2020) ‘UK set to introduce ‘Jack’s Law’ – new legal right to paid parental bereavement leave’ <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-set-to-introduce-jacks-law-new-legal-right-to-paid-parental-bereavement-leave> [Accessed: 30 January 2020]
Emplaw Online (2019) ‘Your essential briefing on The Good Work Plan and subsequent developments’ <https://www.emplaw.co.uk/article/your-essential-briefing-good-work-plan-and-subsequent-developments> [Accessed: 22 November 2019]
FusionHR (2019) ‘Changes to Employment Contract Law from April 2020’ <https://www.fusionbusiness.org.uk/changes-to-employment-contract-law-from-april-2020/> [Accessed: 22 November 2019]
HM Government (2018) ‘Good Work Plan’
KentHR (2019) ‘6 April 2020 Changes to Terms and Conditions of Employment’ <https://kenthr.co.uk/knowledge-centre/employment-law-changes-april-2020/> [Accessed: 22 November 2019]
SETON (2019) ‘Good Work Plan: How to prepare’ <https://www.seton.co.uk/legislationwatch/article/good-work-plan/> [Accessed: 22 November 2019]
THSP Risk Management (2019) ‘The Good Work Plan (changes will take effect from April 2020)’ <https://www.thsp.co.uk/the-good-work-plan/> [Accessed: 22 November 2019]