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Greater protection for atypical workers

The Government has confirmed that it intends to introduce a number of legislative changes designed to improve protection for agency workers, zero hours workers and others with atypical working arrangements.

Among other things, the Government has confirmed that it will repeal the ‘Swedish derogation’ in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which excludes agency workers from the right to the same pay as directly recruited workers if they have a contract of employment with the agency.

It will also:

  • increase from one week to four weeks the period required to break continuity of employment for the purpose of accruing employment rights;
  • give all workers the right to a ‘day one’ written statement of rights; and
  • legislate to prevent employers making deductions from staff tips.

The Government has not, however, committed to a timetable for most of these reforms.

The reforms are set out in the ‘Good Work Plan’, the Government’s latest response to the recommendations made by the Taylor Review, published in July 2017. The Good Work Plan also sets out proposals for improving the enforcement of worker rights.

Among other things, the Government will:

  • quadruple the maximum employment tribunal fine for employers who are demonstrated to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight in breaching employment rights from £5,000 to £20,000;
  • bring forward proposals in early 2019 for a single enforcement body to ensure vulnerable workers are better protected;
  • create new powers to impose penalties on employers who breach employment agency legislation like non-payment of wages; and
  • bring forward legislation to enforce holiday pay for vulnerable workers.

The Good Work Plan also confirms the Government’s intention to legislate to clarify the test of employment status on which eligibility for worker rights depends. It accepts the Taylor Review’s recommendation that the differences between the employment status tests that govern entitlement to employment rights and tax liability should be reduced to an absolute minimum.