All change in employment law?

Insights - 28/02/2018

The working world is evolving. As businesses and individuals search for arrangements that suit modern life, the law must continually develop. Whilst this flexibility has been praised as a strength of the economy, there were concerns that the law has been too slow to adapt to the changes. Therefore, at the end of 2016, the Government asked Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the RSA and former policy chief, to lead an independent review of employment practices to see if they remained ‘fit for purpose’.

In July 2017, Matthew Taylor published his report, Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices which offered 53 recommendations for the Government’s consideration.

In February 2018 the Government set out its response to each of the 53 recommendations (see here) and has committed to take action in relation to most of them, including the following:

  • Extending the right to written particulars for all workers from day one;
  • Asking the Low Pay Commission to explore the impacts of introducing a higher national minimum wage rate for hours that are not guaranteed;
  • Extending the right to receive a pay slip to all workers; one which sets out the hours of work for which time-paid workers are paid;
  • Promoting the awareness of holiday pay rights and considering amendments to the holiday pay reference period for atypical workers;
  • Clarifying the tests for employment status;
  • Reviewing the definition of working time, in particular in relation to people in the “gig economy”;
  • Raising the maximum penalty for breaches with “aggravating features” from £5,000 to at least £20,000 as soon as practicable;
  • Setting out action to be taken against employers who repeatedly ignore their responsibilities and decisions of the employment tribunals.

So what does this mean for your business? Is there going to be a huge overhaul of employment law provisions for which you need to prepare?

In reality many of the action points are subject to further consultation. The Government has launched four consultations on each of the following:

  1. Employment status, to include consideration of possible codification;
  2. Measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market;
  3. Agency workers recommendations; and
  4. Enforcement of employment rights recommendations.

The Government recognises that people and businesses need to know where they stand and that greater clarity in these areas may be required but it also respects the significant impact that changes in these areas could have. The Government wants to strike the right balance between offering adequate protections and maintaining flexibility and so it is seeking further guidance on how best to proceed.

These consultations will remain open until at least May, so we are unlikely to see any significant changes immediately, but that doesn’t mean businesses should put this on the back burner.

The Government’s response has at least set out the direction of travel and, in light of the report, it is a good time for businesses to reflect on their current working practices, assess the areas which could be affected by the proposals and consider how they could address those challenges. Businesses that do this will be ready to react if and when the time comes for changes to be made.

We are tracking the progression of these changes and will keep you updated on any developments in our regular blogs.

If you have any queries in relation to the issues mentioned in this blog please contact Emma McLoughlin or your usual Morrisons’ adviser.

Other articles from February's newsletter

Disclaimer:

Although correct at the time of publication, the contents of this newsletter/blog are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Please contact us for the latest legal position.