Government sets out biggest raft of workplace reforms for 20 years

cyber crime
Greg Clark

The government will today set out the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years, with ambitious reforms to ensure the UK leads the world in meeting the challenges of the changing world of work.

The package of new legislation and measures, set to be unveiled by the Business Secretary Greg Clark, will ensure workers can access fair and decent work. The measures will give businesses greater clarity on their obligations, and ensure the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose.

Today’s announcement takes forward 51 of the 53 recommendations made by Matthew Taylor in his review, some of which we have gone further than review, of Modern Working Practices. Our reforms will cement the UK’s status as a world leader in workers’ rights now and well into the future and will be the first country in the world to address the opportunities and challenges of the gig economy and the changing world of work, and its impact on a modern economy.

They form a key part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, a long-term plan to build a Britain fit for the future by helping businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK.

The new legislation will:

  • close the loophole which currently allows agency workers to be employed on cheaper rates than permanent counterparts
  • extend the right to a day one written statement of rights to workers, going further to include detail on rights such as eligibility for sick leave and pay and details of other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity leave
  • quadruple maximum employment tribunal fines for employers who are demonstrated to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight (up from £5,000 to £20,000)
  • extend the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks, ensuring those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to
  • lower the threshold required for a request to set up Information and Consultation arrangements from 10% to 2%.

The government is also committing to legislate to improve the clarity of the employment status tests to reflect the reality of the modern working relationships.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK has a labour market of which we can be proud. We have the highest employment rate on record, increased participation amongst historically under-represent groups and wages growing at their fastest pace in almost a decade.

“This success has been underpinned by policies and employment law which strikes an effective balance between flexibility and worker protections but the world of work is changing, bringing new opportunities for innovative businesses and new business models to flourish, creating jobs across the country and boosting our economy. With new opportunity also comes new challenges and that is why the government asked Matthew Taylor to carry out this first of a kind review, to ensure the UK continues to lead the world, through our modern Industrial Strategy, in supporting innovative businesses whilst ensuring workers have the rights they deserve.

“Today’s largest upgrade in workers’ rights in over a generation is a key part of building a labour market that continues to reward people for hard work, that celebrates good employers and is boosting productivity and earning potential across the UK.”