The government published its Good Work Plan back in December 2018 in response to Matthew Taylor's review of employment practices. The Good Work Plan's stated aims are to provide clarity, ensure fair and decent work and facilitate enforcement. Employers need to be aware of and prepared for various changes to the employment and appointment of their staff that will come into effect on 6 April 2020.
6 April 2020 changes
- Applicability of Section 1 Statement – Employers are currently 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.
- Day 1 right – Section 1 Statements will need to be provided on or before the worker's/employee's first day of work. There will no longer be a two-month grace period.
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. If employers change any term which is required to be listed in the Section 1 Statements, they will need to notify their staff accordingly.
- Additional information to be included – additional information will also need to be included within the Section 1 Statements, such as:
- 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.
Not all of these changes to Section 1 Statements will be an issue for employers, many of whom will already have much of the required information in their contracts. Care will, however, be needed to ensure that an appropriate level of detail is included within the Section 1 Statement itself, as there will be less scope to rely on ancillary documents such as policies in a handbook. In addition to Section 1 Statements, there are a number of other changes coming on 6 April, including:
- 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.
- Swedish derogation removal – it will no longer be possible to rely on the Swedish derogation provision when using agency workers. 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. The Swedish derogation provisions had previously provided 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.
Employers will be well advised to get up to speed with these changes. The changes to Section 1 Statements should be relatively easy to implement if the necessary information is organised now. However, the reference period increase will impact more complex issues, such as the calculation of holiday pay, and may require changes to payroll systems.