Workplace Legislative Changes

The Government has announced new legislation to be introduced soon which will give workers on zero-hour contracts, agency employees or “gig economy” workers better protection says Chris Wilkinson from Expert HR Solutions.

The reforms are based on the findings of a review into modern working practices led by Matthew Taylor, a former aide to ex-PM Tony Blair. The key changes are:

* ensure firms will have to provide a “statement of rights” on the first day of a person’s employment, setting out what paid leave they are entitled to, including for illness, maternity and paternity leave;

* workers would also be given the right to request more predictable hours;

* close a loophole that had allowed agency staff to be paid less than permanent employees;

* increase the maximum fine employers face at a tribunal from £5,000 to £20,000, if they are found to have demonstrated “malice, spite or gross oversight;”

* ensure that companies will have to calculate holiday pay based on 52 weeks, as opposed to 12 weeks, so people in “seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to.”

As always with employment law changes the devil will be in the detail says Chris, but for now employers should look at their Recruitment and Selection policies and processes to see what, if anything, they need to change to meet the first day Statement of Rights requirement. If you employ Agency staff then you should undertake a benefits comparison exercise. In the absence of any further guidance it would seem prudent to use the legal reasons for declining a flexible working request for any request for more predictable hours.

There is a legal definition of ‘Malice’ which I “harmful intent,” there is no similar legal definition of ‘Spite’ or ‘Gross Oversight,’ so we will have to await the actual legislation to see if that helps or potentially even case precedent says Chris. He also hopes that the legislation will be more precise in defining the number of weeks in a year as 365/7 = 52.14 not 52.

If you as an employer want help with this or any other employment issue why not give us a call on 01202 611033, your first 30 minutes is FREE says Chris.

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