Changes to gig economy employment legislation

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The Good Work Plan announced on 17 December 2018 is an attempt by the government to provide greater protection to flexible workers, predominantly working in the “gig economy” and to ensure that employment laws keep pace with changes in the economy and society. The effective date of the statutory instruments which give effect to these changes vary, but the majority of the amendments will come into force on 6 April 2020.

The major changes:

  1. That the written statement of employment particulars must be given from the first day of employment;
  2. The right to a written statement has been extended to workers (previously, only employees had this right);
  3. The rules for calculating a week’s pay for holiday pay purposes will increase the reference period for variable pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks;
  4. The Swedish Derogation, which currently gives employers the ability to pay agency workers less than their own workers in certain circumstances, will be abolished;
  5. Penalties for aggravated breaches of employment law will be increased;
  6. The percentage required for a valid employee request for the employer to negotiate an agreement on informing and consulting its employees has been lowered;
  7. Workers will be guaranteed the right to request a stable contract after six months of work; and
  8. Employers which do not pay tribunal awards when liable will be named and shamed.

Although the changes have been broadly welcomed by unions, employers, and the self-employed, critics argue that a chance to fundamentally change the landscape of relevant legislation has been missed on the grounds that the proposals do not go sufficiently far.

Amongst other omissions, the proposed legislation does not:

  1. Get rid of zero hours contracts;
  2. Address low wages;
  3. Place an onus on employers to prove that workers are self-employed; and
  4. Address larger problems around Brexit and workers’ rights.

For any advice relating to these changes, or any other aspect of employment law, please contact Chris Marshall or Steven Eckett on 020 7703 5034.