March 6, 2020

Good Work Plan: Countdown to Compliance

Are you aware of the Government’s “Good Work Plan”? Do you realise that you acquire new and increased responsibilities for staff engaged after 6 April 2020?

This blog summarises the five key Good Work Plan changes that will affect your business from April:

  1. From 6 April new starters must receive their principal statement on or before their first day of employment.
  2. The right to such written terms is extended to workers – not just employees.
  3. You have to provide written terms irrespective of how long the work lasts – even if it’s only one day!
  4. The list of matters you must include has been extended.
  5. If you fail to provide them, the new starter can complain to an Employment Tribunal.

Before you completely despair, here are some pragmatic observations:

Principal Statements on or Before Day One

Until now you had two months to issue this. You’ll hear it called principal statement, written terms or contract of employment. It’s the same difference! If you don’t issue it on day one, strictly speaking you are in breach of the new regulations. However, employment will be in the “honeymoon” period. Your new employee is unlikely to go rushing to an employment tribunal. But do issue it promptly.

The Government suggests you issue it in advance. We suggest you don’t. If you make a conditional offer of employment and issue a ”contract” at the same time it might invalidate the conditionality. If you feel you must issue it at this stage, it’s imperative it does not take effect unless and until the conditional offer becomes substantive employment.

Workers and Employees

What’s the difference we hear you ask? Good question. If only the law was clear! Such clarification was an intention in the original “Good Work Plan” but not (yet) enacted. So there is no useful legal clarification available.

If you use Moorepay principal statements and written agreements, the vast majority reflect employment. The significant exception is our “casual worker” scheme. You will need to use the most up-to-date edition. This includes a revision to the schedule which sets out detail of each assignment. It will address the legal obligations you now have.

Just One Day’s Work

Until now, if you engaged someone for less than one month you didn’t actually have to issue any written particulars. In reality, many clients already issue documentation for very short engagements.

It’s really only where you are using the casual work scheme that this is likely to be an issue. As mentioned earlier, you must now issue a compliant schedule every time.

Extended Written Terms

If you are using Moorepay templates this will not really be an issue. In virtually every case, our current templates already cover the matters required by the new regulations. Plus, most Moorepay employee handbooks contain contractual detail. So, pragmatically, if you did face a challenge, you could argue you had fulfilled the new obligations because the handbook already provides additional contractual detail.

More to the point, have you ever known anybody complain that detail about probation provisions, bereavement leave or training and development was in the employee handbook and not their “contract”?

Claims to the Employment Tribunal

If someone new does go charging off to an employment tribunal, what happens? Well the tribunal can determine terms and tell you to issue them. If this was the Republic of Ireland, it could also fine you for your failures. But it’s not.

Only if a separate matter that’s before the Tribunal turns on an issue that should have been in the written terms – but wasn’t – can an additional penalty of two or four weeks’ pay be added. But that’s not new. It’s existing law. And how many times have you experienced it happening? Such cases are very few and far between.

What Should I Do Now?

We are certainly not advising you to ignore the new regulations (even though they’re unnecessarily bureaucratic, potentially time-consuming and exceptionally tedious). There was no groundswell of public, political, business or trade union disquiet to suggest this tinkering round the margins was necessary. However, regrettably, they now reflect the law and you should comply.

When we undertake your next documentation review we will check through the templates we understand you use, and update them. We’ll try to make your life as easy and straightforward as possible.

In the meantime we believe you can adopt a fairly pragmatic approach. While this includes issuing written terms promptly after staff start, don’t lose sleep or get hung up on the remaining minutiae of these regulations.

Next Steps

Moorepay customers who would value further guidance on the Good Work Plan changes can email policy.team@moorepay.co.uk. If you’re interested in finding out more about our HR Services you can contact us or download our brochure.

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About the author

Mike Fitzsimmons

About the author

Mike Fitzsimmons

Mike is a Senior HR Consultant within the Moorepay Policy Team. He is responsible for the developing of employment documentation and is an Employment law advisor. With over 30 years of senior management and HR experience, Mike has managed teams of between 30 and 100 employees and is familiar with all the issues that employing people brings. He has also served as a non-executive director on the Boards of several social enterprises and undertook a five year tour of duty as Executive Chair of a £30+ million annual turnover Government agency.

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