Don’t forget there is another huge change on the horizon.

Andrew Blog.jpgAsk any organisation providing, or using, high volumes of contingent labour what their immediate concerns are, and Brexit will be the warning light on their dashboard - closely followed by IR35. The timetable for Brexit makes it the more immediate (although at the time of writing, the October deadline could easily move again) whilst IR35 feels a little more comfortably further away, despite the amount of preparations that are required ahead of April 6th 2020.

Yet between the twists and turns of UK parliament, and the headline court cases of HMRC, a quiet revolution is creeping up. In just over 6 months’ time a raft of new legislation - the government’s Good Work plan - will also impact the legal requirements around agency labour. Yet these changes remain a poor cousin in terms of awareness and planning, probably because its journey from idea to legislation has rarely gained real momentum.

It was all the way back in July 2017 that The Taylor Review was released, which set out independent recommendations on how ‘good work for all’ could deliver two-way flexibility for workers and employers. Ultimately the goal was to set out a way to not only protect gig economy workers and the self-employed, but also agency staff in certain situations.

The Taylor Review was published to much acclaim and then promptly disappeared from the press, until government formally responded in December 2018 with the release of their ‘Good Work Plan’. This plan was billed as the ‘largest upgrade in a generation to workplace rights.’ However, actual implementation timelines and accompanying legislative detail were absent from both the plan and the announcement. Yet again, the substance of the report struggled to gain real awareness. 

Subsequently implementation dates were announced – and news of the decision to abolish Swedish Derogation in April 2020 did cut through. But there are other changes that are coming and coming fast by the same date.

These include:

  1. The reference period for determining an average week’s holiday pay will increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks for workers whose pay varies or who have no normal working hours.
  2. The extension of legislation governing the right of workers to receive a written statement. Currently written statements are only required for employees who have worked for longer than a month.  From April 2020, these statements will need to contain information about an assignment on, or by, the end of day one of a worker starting at an organisation. This is a big shift. Whilst the statement must continue to include how long a temporary job is expected to last, notice periods and details of eligibility for sick leave and pay, additional information will also be required within the statement from April.

This will encompass:

  • Details of other types of paid leave e.g. maternity/paternity leave.
  • The duration and conditions of any probationary period
  • All remuneration (not just pay) – contributions in cash or kind
  • Which specific days and times workers are required to work
  • Training provided by the employer or required by the employer which they will not bear the cost of.

Where the contract with the worker is between the agency and the worker (rather than the organisation), it will be the agency that will be responsible for administering this right to a statement – not the end user client. This is a very little-known fact.

  1. On top of the written statement, legislation from April 2020 will require all employment businesses to provide every agency worker with a Key Facts Page before each contract is undertaken. This will include: the type of contract a worker is employed under, the minimum rates of pay that they can expect, how they are paid through an intermediary company (an umbrella), any deductions or fees that will be taken, and an estimate or an example of what this means for their take home pay. The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (which may soon, under government plans, become part of an overarching labour market ‘police’) will enforce situations where the Key Facts page is not provided.

Further changes are also signalled as part of the Good Work Plan. One of which may also have huge logistical ramifications - the proposed right for workers to have reasonable notice of work/shifts coming up and a new potential law requiring workers to be offered compensation if a shift they are booked on is cancelled by the hiring organisation at short notice. Whilst this is at consultation stage, commentators believe this could well come into fruition.

In terms of reasonable notice, the consultation makes it clear the rules would govern instances where work could have been better planned (to discourage poor scheduling), rather than for sickness or overtime which is justifiably very last-minute. The consultation is asking whether i) There should just be one set notice period for all industries, or different ones depending on an organisation’s sector ii) Whether the right should be guaranteed from the moment a worker signs up or once they have accrued so many hours iii) How the notice should be given and recorded (e.g. email/text etc) and iiii) What the penalty should be for non-compliance.

In terms of the compensation question for cancelling shifts at short notice, there is no feel for what would be deemed “short notice” and this is what is being consulted on. However, the compensation value being considered is i) The value of the shifts/hours that were cancelled, ii) A workers’ appropriate NMW rate multiplied by their number of hours cancelled or iii) A multiple of a workers’ appropriate NMW rate e.g. 3x NMW.

Clearly the Good Work Plan does not deserve its current status as little known about or considered.

Since 2001, GRI (previously known as de Poel) has provided award-winning outsourced solutions through our account management and e-tips® software system, helping organisations source and manage temporary workforces in both the public and private sector, navigating legislative change for our clients and agencies.

We are here to support organisations with your considerations on how the Government’s legislative intentions could impact the way you source and manage your temporary workforce and how you can adopt a best practice approach ahead of time. It is vitally important that agency providers are aware of the legislation that will be in play from April 2020 and ensure that it is adhered to.

GRI is commencing a large-scale awareness programme consisting of webinars and information packs for those GRI agency partners supplying to our clients, to educate on this little known and forthcoming requirement. We are always happy to advise other organisations, who would benefit from the value add that a neutral vendor partner can bring to their agency management, as to how best to approach the challenges that lie ahead in the next 12 months – from Brexit to IR35 and of course The Good Work Plan.

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