Major employment law changes are heading our way

Whilst the Government seems likely to be preoccupied by Brexit until we have all long reached state retirement age there are still some major changes planned for 2020 to try to improve the working conditions of workers in the gig economy or on Zero hours contracts. It’s long been a concern that the estimated 2.8% of workers who work in the less regulated gig economy or up to 1.8 million people on zero hours contracts do not have the same rights and protections enjoyed by the majority of other employees. 

The “Good Work Plan” attempts to shift the balance towards the employee and a number of measures are due to be implemented in the spring of 2020. The most eye catching being: 

  • Workers will have the right to request a stable and predictable contract after 26 weeks. It’s anticipated employers will have to consider requests in the same way that they have to consider flexible working requests and will have to show a pressing business need to refuse 
  • The gap in time that prevents continuity of service will be widened from 1 to 4 weeks to deter from laying off staff to prevent them accumulating the 26 weeks’ service 
  • Agency workers will be entitled to equal pay after 12 weeks 
  • All workers will be entitled to a statement of key terms and benefits from day 1 of starting  

It’s been suggested that these changes may be followed by a return to Employment Tribunal fees to make it more difficult for employees to enforce their rights although given the shambolic way these were introduced and then overturned as unlawful in the recent past it may be that government (whatever the flavour) would find that difficult to do or unpalatable and that these changes improving workers rights will be implemented without any counterbalance. Either way it’s important for employers to be aware of their responsibilities to avoid falling foul of the legislation.