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The Good Work Plan six months on: impact on employers?

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law


It is nearly six months after the Government published its Good Work Plan. The Plan promised an ambitious programme of work to deliver on the Government’s “vision for the future of the UK labour market” and has already led to changes in legislation. However, a combination of political reality and technical difficulties has led to other changes stalling or being delayed.

To help employers prepare, we have summarised the current state of play and outlined practical workplace implications in the table below.


The December 2018 Good Work Plan set out how the Government will implement the recommendations arising from the 2017 Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices (read our briefing). The Taylor Review, in particular, focused on the implications of new forms of work, the rise of digital platforms and the impact of new working models and addressed worker status, holiday pay rights, agency workers, tribunal and state enforcement and much more.

Alongside the Good Work Plan, the Government published the Low Pay Commission’s advice on addressing one-sided flexibility (which has been described as flexibility which benefits the employer at the unreasonable expense of the worker).

Since December, regulations have been finalised which implement aspects of the Good Work Plan. Consultations have been promised in other areas. The scope and number of recommendations in the Plan (more than 50) risk employers missing developments and deadlines. The overview below is aimed at supporting timely planning as well as informing employers if no immediate action is required.

The Good Work Plan and progress to date - in overview

Topic Proposal Timing Implications
Worker status Legislate to improve the clarity of the employment status tests; consider how tax and employment status can be aligned; provide better guidance No immediate change – we expect further consultation on the status proposals Any change is expected to focus on the degree of control exercised over workers and the reality of substitution clauses. This could have a significant impact on employers with casual, flexible workforces
One-sided flexibility Continuity of employment to be broken after a four week break (up from one week); right to request stable contract after 26 weeks or a contract which reflects workers’ normal hours; right to reasonable notice of work schedule; compensation for shift cancellation or curtailment without reasonable notice No immediate change – we expect consultation on some or all of these further to the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations This is most likely to affect employers reliant upon on-demand and flexible workforces by introducing additional administrative processes (e.g. to handle contract change requests) and a duty to plan and communicate shifts earlier - or pay additional costs
Transparency Right to payslips for all workers which state hours paid (if pay varies by reference to time worked); a day one right for all workers to receive more detailed particulars of their terms and conditions Payslips - April 2019; statements - April 2020 Employers should review and update their standard contracts for workers and employees and provide them earlier
Agency workers (AW) Remove “Swedish derogation” (which avoids AW pay parity rules); provide Key Information Document containing pay/costs/ holiday etc details to those seeking agency work April 2020 This has the potential to add costs for employers using agency labour
Worker engagement Reduce the threshold to trigger employee information and consultation (I&C) arrangements (e.g. staff councils) from 10% to 2% of employees, subject to a minimum of 15 April 2020 Employers should review their existing I&C arrangements, including how this change may impact on a potential request from a trade union for recognition
Holidays State enforcement of holiday pay rights; extend reference period to 52 weeks; awareness raising/calculator Reference period change - April 2020; awaiting state enforcement change These changes may increase holiday claims and grievances and may lead to HMRC or another enforcement body investigating employers’ holiday pay practices
Pregnancy and maternity leave Extend redundancy protections to pregnant women, maternity returners and potentially beyond (e.g. to those taking shared parental leave) Awaiting the Government’s response to a recent consultation If adopted, employers will need to give a wider range of employees priority over alternative vacancies during redundancy exercises
Enforcement Increase tribunal penalties; new single labour market enforcement agency Higher penalties - April 2019; awaiting single enforcement agency Employers need to be aware of increased penalties for aggravated breaches of workers’ rights (e.g. malicious or intentional)