HOT OFF THE PRESS: Changes to Agency and Temporary Workers Rights

New legislation to boost workers’ rights was introduced on 17 December 2018.

The legislation has been developed in response to the recommendations made in the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices last year. 

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Today’s largest upgrade in workers’ rights in over a generation is a key part of building a labour market that continues to reward people for hard work, that celebrates good employers and is boosting productivity and earning potential across the UK.”

The legislation, set to be unveiled by Greg Clark, will address the following:

  • repeal the Swedish derogation, which allows organisations to pay agency workers on cheaper rates than permanent staff;
  • extend the right to a written statement of rights from a person’s first day in their job to workers, going further to confirm their eligibility for sick leave and pay, as well as other types of paid leave including maternity, paternity and shared parental leave;
  • quadrupling the maximum fines handed out at employment tribunals to employers that have shown malice, spite or gross oversight from £5,000 to £20,000;
  • extending the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks to ensure that those in seasonal roles are able to take the time off they are entitled to; and
  • lowering the threshold required for a request to set up information and consultation arrangements from 10% of employees to 2%.
  • Employment status tests will also be tightened up to improve clarity and reflect the reality of many modern working relationships.

The exploitation of low-paid workers will also be tackled by:

  • allocating more resources to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate;
  • bringing forward plans for a single enforcement body to help protect vulnerable workers to early 2019;
  • imposing penalties on employers who breach employment agency legislation, like non-payment of wages;
  • consulting on salaried hours work and salary sacrifice schemes to make sure minimum wage rules do not penalise employers;
  • enforcing holiday pay for vulnerable workers; and
  • consulting on the recommendations made in Sir David Metcalf’s Labour Market Strategy on non-compliance in supply chains.

It’s clear that employers will be under increased scrutiny to meet their legal obligations and better protect the rights of their workers and tighten up their employment practices.  Those who don’t could find themselves facing significant fines at a tribunal. 

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