In 2016 the Government commissioned Matthew Taylor to carry out a review of employment practices in the modern economy. After touring the country speaking to employers and workers in various sectors, the Taylor Review published its report in July 2017. Many of the recommendations focused on improving the working life and employment rights of workers in the gig economy, including casual and zero hours workers.

The Government published its response to the Taylor Review in February 2019, announcing that it would consult further on a number of the recommendations. In December 2018 it published a policy paper, the Good Work Plan, which set out a number of commitments, and last month saw the introduction of The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations which will bring into force some of those commitments.

Penalties for losing employers

Since 2014, Employment Tribunals have had the power to order a losing employer to pay a financial penalty to the Secretary of State in respect of aggravated breaches of worker's rights. The Tribunal can decide what counts as an "aggravating feature" in any given case, taking into account all the circumstances including the size of the employer, the duration of the breach and the behaviour of the parties.

The new Regulations increase the maximum penalty for aggravated breaches from £5,000 to £20,000 (this is paid in addition to any compensation that the losing employer is ordered to pay to the employee). The increase will apply to any breaches that take place on or after 6 April 2019.

Written statement of particulars

Currently, only employees have the right to receive a section 1 statement (so called because section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1998 sets out the information that must be included in the statement). The new Regulations will give all workers who start work on or after 6 April 2020 a right to a section 1 statement setting out the particulars of their employment.

If you are unsure about who is classed as an employee or worker, click here to view our article on the difference between employees, workers and self-employed consultants.

Information and consultation thresholds

The new Regulations also make changes to existing legislation to lower the threshold required for employees to make a request to set up information and consultation arrangements (such as a works council) from 10% to 2%. As is currently the case, this will only apply to employers with at least 15 employees. This change will come into force on 6 April 2020

Jane Klauber will be discussing the Taylor review and the Good Work Plan at our free employment law update on 14 May 2019. Please visit our website to sign up.