Good Work Plan Changes

It feels like a distant memory but back in December 2018 the government published its Good Work Plan. Some requirements of the plan will come into force on 6 April 2020 and suggest that you begin your preparations as soon as possible. The stated aims of the Plan are to provide clarity, ensure fair and decent work and facilitate enforcement. The changes are as follows:

  • Section 1 Statement (terms of employment) to be provided from Day One: Currently an employer has two months to provide a Section 1 Statement to an employee; however, from April, Employers will need to provide the Section 1 Statement on or before the worker’s/employee’s first day of work. From a practical point of view, employers will be pleased to note that there will be no need to issue new contracts to existing staff if their terms do not change. Existing staff will, however, have the right to request new Section 1 Statements at any time, including up to three months after the end of their appointment/employment, and employers will have one month to comply;
  • Additional information will need to be included in Section 1 Statements:
    • details of any probationary period, including its duration and any conditions that apply (such as a shorter notice period) during the probation;
    • details of all paid leave, including details of pay for any form of family leave;
    • training entitlements and details of compulsory training, including whether the employer will pay for it;
    • details of all benefits provided. This appears to include both contractual and non-contractual benefits, so it will be important to differentiate between them; and
    • terms relating to any work the worker will be required to complete outside the UK for periods of more than one month.

The additional information change is probably the biggest change for most employers. Particularly because the appropriate level of detail must be included within the Section 1 Statement itself, as, importantly, the Good Work Plan removes the scope to rely on ancillary documents such as policies in a handbook.

  • Section 1 Statement to be provided to workers: Currently employers are only legally required to provide a written statement of the main terms of employment to their employees (Section 1 Statement). From 6 April 2020, employers will also have to provide Section 1 Statements to their ‘workers’ as well;
  • Reference period increase: the reference period for calculating average weekly pay will increase from 12 to 52 weeks. This is intended to prevent staff being disadvantaged if they take holiday during quieter times.
  • Agency Workers – removal of the ‘Swedish derogation’: it will no longer be possible to rely on the Swedish derogation provision when using agency workers. This provision currently provides an exemption from the right to parity of terms with direct recruits after 12 weeks where agency workers were issued with a permanent contract and paid between assignments. From April 2020, agencies whose contracts with their workers contain such provisions will need to be provided with a written statement confirming that, with effect from 6 April 2020, these will no longer apply.

Claire Helling, Senior Solicitor

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