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New law: Government proposals for major employment law changes

Employers should start preparing now for major changes to employment law following publication of the Government’s proposals under its Good Work Plan.

February 2019

This update was published in Legal Alert - February 2019

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

Key proposals set out by government include:

  • Clarifying the law to help employers and staff understand when a person is an employee, worker or self-employed (though change to current classifications has not been proposed, as some hoped).
  • Employers to provide a written statement of terms for all workers, not just employees, to include more terms - and most terms being provided on day one of employment rather than within two months.
  • Employers to give ‘specific key facts’, similar to a statement of terms for employees, to agency workers on the first day of engagement.
  • Employers to pay gig economy workers the national minimum or living wage.
  • Making sure workers are aware of their rights, such as to paid holiday.
  • Transferring enforcement of statutory holiday and sick pay to HMRC, simplifying the process to enforce tribunal awards and improving how employment tribunal awards are enforced, including naming and shaming those who fail to pay.
  • Increasing the maximum penalty for ‘aggravated breaches’ of employment law from £5,000 to £20,000.
  • Abolishing the system whereby agency workers who receive a minimum payment when they are not working can opt out of the right to be paid the same as employees of the businesses they work for (known as the ‘Swedish derogation’).
  • Providing that, for the purposes of calculating an employee’s period of continuous service (which affects whether they are entitled to certain employment law rights, such as protection from unfair dismissal), a break in their employment of four weeks will not stop the employment being continuous (currently, only a one-week break is allowed).
  • Giving flexible workers a right to request a ‘more stable’ contract after 26 weeks’ continuous service – for example, a zero hours’ worker who usually works 30 hours per week can request a contract guaranteeing 30 hours work per week.
  • Changing the pay reference period for calculating holiday pay from 12 to 52 weeks.

Operative date

  • Now


  • Employers should consider taking advice on the implications of the new laws on their recruitment, promotion and other employment law policies and procedures.

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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