Legal update: Good Work Plan - change on the horizon

Following the publication of the Good Work Plan (GWP), the government has set out an ambitious programme of reform to ensure the labour market works for everyone.

In October it sought responses to a number of consultations. Here’s a run-down of the main things to expect:

1. Addressing one-sided flexibility

Flexible working that only benefits the employer is widely recognised as a problem and this has been acknowledged by the government. It asked the Low Pay Commission (LPC) to report on this and they made the following recommendations:

  • A right to reasonable notice of work schedules;
  • Compensation for shift cancellation or curtailment without reasonable notice; and
  • The use of improved guidance or codes of practice to assist employers in dealing with one-sided flexibility.

The LPC proposed a “right to switch to a contract which reflects the normal hours worked”, requiring an employer to justify any refusal according to conditions clearly defined in legislation. The government’s intention is to bring forward legislation that introduces a right for all workers to potentially move towards a more predictable and stable contract. Such a right would be enforceable via Employment Tribunals.

While certain aspects of the recommendations are to be welcomed, the REC is cautious about others and will highlight this and the impact that the proposed changes could have on employment businesses.

2. Establishing a new single enforcement body for employment rights

The government consulted on establishing a single enforcement body to ensure the effective enforcement of employment rights and to create a level playing field for those organisations that are complying with the law. The new proposed body would deal with the work currently being done by bodies such as the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI).

3. Flexible working and proposals to support families

The government is considering the introduction of a new statutory requirement whereby employers would have to publish information in relation to their family-related leave, pay and flexi working policies. The consultation sought views in relation to how such a requirement could be beneficial in terms of increasing transparency and how the new proposed system could be enforced.

The government sought views on the overall approach to parental leave and pay. It looked at how the government should prioritise and balance the different levels of support, and how it can ensure that parental leave and pay arrangements meet the needs of parents and employers.

In October, the REC responded to these consultations having gathered insight from our members. These responses are available to view from both the REC and websites.

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