News & Insights

Good work plan

Taylor made progress as government plans to reform work.

Last month the government confirmed plans to introduce several legislative changes designed to improve protection for agency workers, zero-hour workers and other atypical workers. The government has described the changes as “the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years”.

These reforms are set out in a document known as the ‘Good Work Plan’. The reforms address numerous areas of concern raised in the original consultation, the ‘Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices’, which was published in July 2017. Amongst other points the plan includes several adjustments to respond to issues affecting the gig economy to try to resolve the current uncertainties that exist for both employers and workers in the labour market.

Other headline points include workers being guaranteed an improved written statement of terms from day one, measures to ensure it is easier for casual staff to establish continuity of employment and the right to request more stable and predictable contracts for workers. The ‘Swedish derogation’, which excluded agency workers from the right to the same pay as directly-recruited workers in certain circumstances, will be abolished.

‘One-sided flexibility’ was a key concern Taylor raised in his review. Taylor highlighted how workers remained on insecure, atypical contracts for long periods of time. This has been addressed in the plan as the government will legislate to introduce a right for workers to request more predictable contracts after 26 weeks of service. The plan gives the example of a zero hours worker carrying out at least 30 hours a week. This worker, after 26 weeks of service, could request a contract that guarantees at least 30 hours a week. The employer would have to deal with this request in a similar manner to a flexible working request and respond within three months.

Another significant element of the plan is the aim to make it simpler to bring tribunal claims and enforce awards. As part of this plan there will be improved guidance on enforcement to explain more clearly what options are available as well as simplifying the user’s journey through a tribunal and create a ‘seamless, end-to-end system’ which guides users through each stage of the process.

The plan has generally been met with positive responses due to the proactive enforcement of wage and employment rights. It will be interesting to see if the reforms have the positive effects they intend.