The government has introduced what it claims to be the “largest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation”. It’s important for employees to know what are the new improved rights.
These rights include:
- A strengthening of the Employment Agency Standard Inspectorate with new powers and allowances to impose penalties on employers who breach employment laws.
- After 6 months of working for an employer, employees have the right to submit a request for flexible working hours but are only allowed to make one request to work flexibly per year. After 12 months, they have the right to take unpaid parental leave and after 24 months, employees can claim compensation for unfair dismissal claim. They can also take paid time off to look for work and claim redundancy pay if they are being made redundant.
- Agency workers, fixed-term workers, and part-time workers will be paid the same as permanent staff and there would be lesser or maybe even no disparity in the amount paid these workers and permanent member of staff(s) that have a similar job description. However, entitlements to holidays and other similar rights for part-time workers may be calculated differently from how those of permanent members of staff are calculated. Another variation that exists is there is no specific number of hours that differentiate a part-time worker from a full time one. This instead, varies from company to company and what category an employee comes under will be stated in their contract or job description.
- All employees must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage, which is currently set at £8.21 per hour for workers aged 25 and over. For 21 to 24-year-olds the national hourly minimum wage is £7.70, 18 to 20-year-olds are to be paid £6.15 per hour, while under 18 £4.35 per hour and apprentices £3.90 per hour.
- All employees must receive an itemised payslip that provides a detailed breakdown of their pay and any deductions.
- An end to the “unfair” use of pay-between-assignment contracts which allow businesses an unfair advantage of opting out of equal pay arrangements for agency employees.
- Companies are to provide a written statement of rights to workers, setting out their job title, job description, expected work hours, monthly wages, what paid leave they are entitled to, details of any applicable pension scheme, minimum notice period, disciplinary process and procedure for reporting a grievance as well as any other necessary information. This ensures that workers are given details of their rights from their first day (or within 2 months after starting) on the job.
- Creation of a single organisation responsible for protecting vulnerable workers.
- Employees have the right to take unpaid time off to undergo additional training, attend trade union activities and/or to look after dependents involved in an emergency.
- Extend the holiday pay reference period from 12 weeks to 52 weeks, thereby ensuring that those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off that they are entitled to.
- If an employee has been working for an employer for at least one month, they must give the employee notice if they are to be dismissed.
- If an employee receives a dismissal notice while pregnant or on maternity leave, then the notice must be accompanied by a written explanation of the reason for the dismissal.
- In accordance with health and safety laws, all employees have a right to daily and weekly rest breaks. This includes getting a daily rest period of at least 20 minutes if the working day exceeds 6 hours and at least one full day off every 7 days. Health and safety laws also state that employers have a statutory duty to take care of the health and safety of their employees. They can do this by providing a clean environment to work in, first aid equipment, protective clothing, drinking water and washing facilities and ensuring all machinery is safe for use.
- Increased fines for employers who have deliberately victimised their members of staff. The maximum employment tribunal fines for employers who have been proved to have shown age discrimination, racial discrimination or any other kind of discrimination, malice, spite and/or gross oversight to any member of their staff will increase from £5,000 to £20,000.
- Lower the threshold required for a request to set up information and consultation arrangements from 10% to 2%.
- Measures to be taken to ensure that seasonal workers get paid time off they are entitled to.
The encumbent Government have pledged that upgrading workers’ rights is a key part of building a labour market that rewards people for hard work, that celebrates good employers and that would boost productivity and earning potential across the UK. It is their stated believe that these reforms will make the UK the first country in the world to address the opportunities and challenges present in the gig economy (a labour market characterized by a heavy presence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs) as well as its impact on a modern economy.
Our no win no fee Employment Lawyers can assist with all types of claims. Naturally, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to the highest standards, we offer free employment law advice on all problems. Call us on 0800 756 6605 or 020 3923 4777
Tom Street qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and has over 20 years experience in employment and litigation law. He studied law at the University of Manchester before undertaking the legal practice course at the College of Law in Guildford, going on to complete his legal training at a firm in Chancery Lane, London. Once fully qualified, he moved to a niche litigation practice in the City of London.
In 2010, Tom set up his own legal practice, Tom Street & Co Solicitors and as part of this, in accordance with his strongly held objective to provide everyone with an easy pathway to justice he established the online portals Do I Have A Case? and Tribunal Claim. These websites are trading names of Tom Street & Co Solicitors.