Employment law and the Queen’s Speech

On Monday last week, the Queen outlined the Government’s legislative agenda, which included important policies in respect of employment law.

The government plans to introduce changes which “make work fairer”, suggesting it may deliver on its Good Work Plan (GWP), a proposal first announced in December 2018 following the Taylor Review of Modern Work Practices.

The GWP promised to introduce several legislative changes aimed at strengthening the rights of workers in the gig economy including the introduction of:

  1. the right to request a more fixed working pattern (whether hours or days) to increase certainty, which would operate similar to the current right to request flexible working, with employers genuinely considering any written request and reverting to it within 3 months.
  2. the right to a written statement of terms from day one, applicable to both employees and workers, to replace the current 2 months that employers have to provide new employees with these written statements.
  3. the right to request a more stable contract for all workers that have accrued 26 weeks’ continuous service.
  4. an increase in the time required to break continuous service from 1 week to 4 weeks, to reflect the increasing flexibility of work in some sectors.
  5. an increase to the mandatory reference period for calculating holiday pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks, to reflect more accurate holiday pay for those working irregular hours or overtime.
  6. a reduction in the percentage of employees needed under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations (ICE Regs) from 10% to 2%. This will require more small businesses to be prepared to consult with their employees, on request, about issues in the organisation.

As stated in the Conservative Party conference, we can expect in November’s budget, details on increases to the National Living Wage over the next 5 years, from 60% to 66% of median hourly earnings, with a lower age threshold for qualification from 25 to 21, increasing earnings for a further 4-million low paid workers.

Further, the Speech confirmed the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill would be introduced to ensure “tips are kept in full by, or distributed fairly and transparently to, those who work hard to earn them”. Once it is law, employers would be legally obliged to pass all tips on, whereas currently, most businesses have a voluntary code on tipping workers. Legally, employees need to account to HM Revenue & Customs on such income to ensure tax is paid on it. Employees who receive tips should keep a record of how much they make and declare it at the end of the tax year.

The ultimate aims of these reforms are to ensure that those wishing to work flexibly are not discriminated against; those in low-paid work are better protected and there is better enforcement of employers who treat workers badly.

With such big changes on the horizon, employers need to ensure they are prepared. If you want help understanding how your business may be affected, or are an employee in need of advice on your rights, please contact LF Legal on +44(0)203 146 3549 / [email protected] 

Disclaimer

All our articles are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information provided.

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