What you need to know about the Employment Law Changes

What you need to know about the Employment Law Changes

April 2020 is fast approaching and with it a few employment law changes that you need to be aware of. 

The latest employment law news is dominated by the upcoming legislative changes on 6th April 2020. These changes will affect some areas of employment law including: 

  • Holiday pay reference period.
  • Increased protection for agency workers.
  • Agency workers right to a statement of terms (particulars of employment).
  • Parental bereavement leave and pay.

These changes are all down to a review that was conducted by the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices in July 2017. In this report 53 recommendations were made, most of which were accepted in principle by the government and consultations into how these proposals could be put into place got underway. All of this hard work resulted in the publication of the governments’ Good Work Plan' towards the end of 2019. Let’s take a look at each of the employment law changes in a little more detail and find out how these changes might affect you. 

Holiday pay reference period.

Under the new legislation there will be an increase in the period over which holiday pay is calculated. 

Right now, holiday pay for a worker who works irregular hours, is worked out by taking an average of the number of hours worked over the previous 12 weeks.  This 12 week period is called the ‘pay reference period’. As of 6th April 2020, the pay reference period will be extended to 52 weeks. So, your holiday pay will be based on the average salary you earned over the whole previous 52 weeks. If you have not been working for 52 weeks then don’t worry, it will instead be calculated on the average salary earned over the total number of weeks you have worked.  This is great news for workers who have been stung by taking holiday after a slow period for temporary working hours. 

Increased protection for agency workers.

This new legislation affects what is known as the Swedish Derogation. As of now, agency workers are entitled to receive the same pay as a permanent employee after they have worked for 12 weeks unless they are working under specific contractual arrangements where a low pay is received between assignments. 

It is this extra little bit of distinction about the specific contractual arrangements that is being removed as of 6th April 2020, thus ending the Swedish Derogation. It will become that all agency workers will be entitled to equal pay after 12 weeks of working, regardless of the contract type or arrangement.

Agency workers right to a statement of terms (particulars of employment)

From 6th April 2020 all workers will have the right to receive a written document setting out their basic contractual terms within one day of their employment commencing. Previously, employees who had been working for more than a month would receive a statement of basic terms within two months of the start of their employment so, as of April, things will be a whole lot clearer from the outset.

The particulars of employment will need to include the following information: 

  • If days or hours are variable and if so how.
  • Any and all benefits provided by the employer
  • Any probationary period details including any conditions for passing the probationary period.
  • Any mandatory training requirements and the details

Parental bereavement leave and pay.

Under this new legislation all employed parents with 26 weeks continuous service, who lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a still birth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, will be entitled to two weeks leave from work and statutory parental bereavement pay. Workers without 26 weeks continuous service will be entitled to two weeks unpaid leave.

Regardless of whether you are a temporary worker or a permanent employee, there is nothing you need to do in order to prepare for these changes in legislation. The changes will take affect and it will only be at the point where one might apply to you in your unique circumstances that you might need to check to ensure your employer or agency is working in line with the new laws. For example, after 6th April, if you generally work irregular hours and you are claiming holiday pay you can check your payslip to ensure your holiday pay has been calculated correctly based on your average hours from the previous 52 weeks (or entire service time). If you are unsure you can ask your manager or HR department how the payment has been calculated.  

Exciting times are ahead of us and the UK work force of both temporary and permanent employees have a bright future ahead as we move on into the new industrial revolution where advances in technology and ever changing trends are changing how, when and where we work. 

The Good Work Plan 2020 was an extremely detailed plan with a host of information regarding the protection of workers rights. The opening foreword by Rt Hon Greg Clark MP - Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy provided a clear overview of the vision behind the Good Work Plan 2020 stating;

"In the Good Work Plan the government also commits to a wide range of policy and legislative changes to ensure that workers can access fair and decent work, that both employers and workers have the clarity they need to understand their employment relationships, and that the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose.

Through the Good Work Plan, there is little doubt that we as a country have committed to not only maintain workers’ rights as the UK leaves the EU but to enhance them.

If you have the opportunity, I urge you to head on over and have a read of the full Good Work Plan in detail so you can see how our government is planning to ensure the protection of workers’ rights in the UK now and in the future.