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Our Employment team outlines significant developments expected in 2019 and early 2020 in relation to Employment Law.

The first main topic concerns the introduction of the “Good Work Plan”. This seeks to build on the response by the Government to the Taylor Review and outlines an intention to improve working conditions for agency workers; zero hour workers and other atypical workers.  The majority of the measures in relation to this new legislation are due to come into effect in April 2020. These new laws include a right for workers to request a more stable and predictable contract; an increase in the period required to break continuous employment from one week to four weeks; a ban on deductions from staff tips and also a promise to improve the clarity of the employment status test.  There is also a commitment to repeal the “Swedish Derogation” in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 which excludes agency workers from the right to equal pay with comparable direct employees if certain prescribed conditions are satisfied.

In addition, the “Good Work Plan” will also propose new measures designed to improve the enforcement of Tribunal awards and including a process to publish the names of employers who fail to pay these respective Tribunal awards. There will also be provisions for increased financial penalties for employers who commit an “aggravated breach” of employment rights.

New legislation also came into force on 1 January 2019 and which provides for compulsory reporting of the ratio between CEO pay and average staff pay for companies with 250 or more employees, as well as a package of other changes in relation to corporate governance. These changes will all become effective for accounting periods beginning on, or after, 1 January 2019 and therefore the first respective pay ratio reports will be expected to be published in 2020.

The 2018 UK Court of Governance Code which applies to financial years beginning on, or after, 1 January 2019 also sets out arrangements for improved employee engagement at listed companies. This includes providing three methods for promoting employee engagement – namely the employment of directors from the company’s workforce; the creation of an advisory panel from the workforce; or the creation of a designated non-executive director dealing with specific employee engagement.

The requirement to provide itemised payslips will come into force on 6 April 2019. This introduces the right for all workers to be given an itemised pay statement and the ability to enforce this right at an Employment Tribunal.  In addition, there will also be a requirement for itemised payslips to contain the number of hours paid for where a worker is paid on an hourly basis.

In response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s report on sexual harassment in the workplace, the Government is seeking to introduce a new statutory code of practice. It has been suggested that observing this code will assist employers to show that they have taken reasonable steps and measures to prevent sexual harassment taking place.

Furthermore, and again as part of the Government’s “Good Work Plan”, there will be a requirement for all employees to be provided with a written statement of terms on the first day of their employment, rather than within the first two months as is currently required by the Employment Rights Act 1996, and also to add to the amount of required information which must be contained in the statement of terms. This measure is due to come into force on 6 April 2020.

Under new legislation, all employees who are parents will be entitled from the first day of their employment to two weeks’ leave if their child dies under age 18 or suffer a still birth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Finally, in relation to all these changes, there clearly still remains a very significant question mark over the final terms in which the UK will leave the EU.  Therefore, given this uncertainty, further significant changes may still be made and this may possibly include changes to the proposals set out in this article.

If you require any further assistance in relation to Employment Law matters or have any queries about this article, please contact either Nick Smith (0191 212 7739 or nsmith@mincoffs.co.uk) or Robyn Aisbitt (0191 212 7717 or raisbitt@mincoffs.co.uk) of the Mincoffs Employment Law department.

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