‘…the biggest shake-up of employment law in a generation.’

In response to the challenges caused by the considerable growth in the use of casual working and self-employed arrangements, the government is currently rolling out an extensive programme of employment law reforms known as the Good Work Plan.

SEA members need not fear: the aim of these reforms is not to restrict flexibility for employers, which is seen as key for businesses. However, they aim to give much greater clarity on the terms of engagement and make it easier for individuals to understand and enforce their rights.

SEA recommended supplier, Citation, recently carried out research which found that one-third of employers are still unaware of the Good Work Plan, some are incorrectly calculating holiday pay, and many are not prepared for the changes.

Though the reforms will affect every single sector, they’re particularly relevant to those in our members due to the number of contractors and self-employed individuals used by businesses.

Defining employment status

The key issue at the heart of these reforms is that of correctly identifying the employment status of those who work for your business, as employment rights are governed by this.

Though there is no sign of this on the horizon, the government has conceded that this is an area of unacceptable uncertainty and has promised legislation to clarify this.

Many employers in the engineering and construction sector may find that individuals who start working for them on a casual basis (such as contractors or similar) may, through regular use, have become integrated with the business to such an extent that they would be classed as employees or workers, with the additional rights this entails.

So what do SEA members need to know?

Though The Good Work Plan is a complex programme of reforms, the three key changes will concern:

  • Written statement of particulars of employment for all workers from day one;
  • An increase in the holiday pay calculation period;
  • And increased protection for agency workers.

In terms of holiday pay, the method for calculating entitlements to those working variable hours will change significantly from taking an average of the previous 12 weeks worked to calculating the average over the previous 52 weeks worked.

Another significant change set out in the reforms is allowing some workers the right to request a stable contract. This will not be mandatory, as the government recognises that some people are happy to work varied hours each week and so will be able to continue doing so. However, those who would like more certainty about their hours will be able to request a fixed working pattern from their employer. Although we do not yet have an implementation date for this, this change was a major feature in the new Employment Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech.

The reforms also aim to improve the enforcement of employment rights (especially holiday entitlement and pay), by introducing state enforcement of these rights for ‘vulnerable workers’ (yet to be defined). Over recent years, the rules about what should be included in holiday pay have changed through a series of court decisions on overtime and commission payments.

The Good Work Plan itself is complicated and confusing. Managers and employers wishing to know more should download the white paper produced by the HR and employment law of Citation.

Got any questions?

Call Citation’s friendly team today on 0345 844 1111 to ask any questions you have about The Good Work Plan, or get in touch herejust mention you’re a SEA member when enquiring.

For additional content that breaks down the different elements of The Good Work Plan, you can also visit citation.co.uk/good-work-plan. It hosts best practice advice and guidance, such as a video on defining employment status and an article summarising the upcoming changes.

Your SEA member benefit – Citation’s HR & Employment Law support

With complex legislation change on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to consider getting the complete backing of HR experts.

SEA members are also entitled to preferential rates on Citation’s HR offering, including:

  • Dedicated local consultant
  • 24-hour expert advice line
  • Full legal documentation, including staff handbooks and contracts of employment
  • Access to Atlas, your one-stop-shop HR management tool

Please get in touch by calling 0345 844 1111, or by leaving your details here – just mention you’re a SEA member when enquiring.