What do businesses need to know about the Good Work Plan?

By Anthony Wolny | 20th March 2019 | 9 min read

What is the Good Work Plan? 

In December 2018, the UK Government announced that it would be making a range of policy changes and reforms as part of its ‘Good Work Plan,’ which comprises their vision for the future of the UK labour market, and aims to provide a new layer of protection for both employees and workers.

The changes set out in the Good Work Plan will allow workers to access fair and decent work, provide employers and workers with the clarity they need to understand their employment relationships, and ensure that the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose.

What are the essential components of good work?

The Good Work Plan is essentially the first major government project to truly focus on both the quantity and quality work that is produced in the UK. The independent Industrial Strategy Council was asked to consider how to broadly measure quality of work, and they name-checked five key principles: satisfaction, fair pay, participation and progression, wellbeing and safety and security.   

When is it due to come into force? 

The first wave of changes as part of the Good Work Plan will be introduced on the 6th April 2020. Billed as ‘the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years,’ the prime minister sees the plan as a way to not only maintain the UK’s existing workers’ rights when we leave the EU, but also to improve and enhance them.

What will be included? 

Statement of written terms

All employees and workers must legally be provided with a written statement of terms on or before their first day of employment. The terms must include details on probationary periods, clear description of hours and days of work, details of paid leave different to annual leave, and any training entitlements.

Right to request stable work

This new right will mean that employees’ will be able to request more predictable and stable contracts after they have been employed for at least 26 weeks. It is hoped that this new development will mainly benefit those currently employed on a casual or zero-hours basis.

Break in continuous service

Currently, an employment gap of just one week can break an employee’s continuity of service. Therefore, despite working for their employer for a long period of time, an individual may fail to build up any significant length of service. This break will now be extended from one week to four, which helps those who work on a casual basis to build more employment rights.

Protecting agency workers

After 12 weeks of service, agency workers are entitled to receive the same level of pay as a permanent worker, unless they specifically choose to opt out. It is proposed that the ability to opt out will be legally removed from April 2020, as research has shown that most workers are worse off under this option.

Information and consultation

Information and consultation arrangements provide employees with the right to be involved in wider workplace discussions on an agreed list of topics, such as redundancy or redeployment proposals. Currently, employees need support from 10% of the workforce to make a successful request, but form April 2020, this is expected to be reduced to 2%.

Employment status tests

Although the specifics have yet to be published, it is understood that there will be a commitment to improve the clarity of the current employment status tests for employees, workers and those that are self-employed.

What should HR Managers be aware of for the future?

Other areas that are billed to be included, but so far have less information available include:

Tips and gratuities

It is almost certain that rules will be implemented to ensure that tips will be passed directly to individuals, rather than taken and distributed by an employer.

Further changes to holiday pay

The government has announced plans to make several changes to the current holiday pay situation. These include:

  • Raising awareness of holiday rights and understanding when calculating pay
  • Introducing new guidelines to interpret holiday pay rules (which are complex)
  • Introduce a national, online holiday pay calculator

Potential reintroduction of employment tribunal fees

Whilst nothing official has been announced as part of the Good Work Plan, many are speculating that the government will reintroduce tribunal fees in one way or another, although it is unlikely they will reach the high levels they previously stood at.