Specific Changes to Contracts of Employment – in effect from 6 April 2020

Summary

In December 2018, the government published its Good Work Plan containing a number of legislative changes to allow for workplace reforms ensuring fair and decent work, clarity for employers and fairer enforcement. Such reforms included changes to written statements of terms which will be in force from the 6 April 2020. It is important for all employers to be aware of the changes to ensure compliance with employment law.

The current position

Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (‘ERA’) 1996, provides that employers must provide employees whose employment is to continue for more than one month with a written statement of particular terms of their contract.

Currently, the written statement must be provided to employees no later than two months after their employment begins. This document must include specific details such as hours of work, start date of employment, rates of pay and holiday entitlement.

The changes

The obligation to provide a written statement of employment particulars will be extended to workers, as well as employees.
This change will come into force under the Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 and applies to all new joiners after the 6 April 2020.

Employers and workers must be provided with their written statement on or before their first day of employment.
The ERA 1996 will be amended to provide for this reform, which currently allows for two months from the start date for a written statement to be provided. Again, this change will apply to all new joiners after the 6 April 2020. There are exceptions to this for certain information including, information relating to pensions and collective agreements, which can still be provided in two months. The majority of the specified information required in a written statement will however become a ‘day one’ right.

The amount of information that must be included in the written statement of terms has increased.
The additional information that must now be included on a written statement includes the hours and days of the week that an employee or worker is required to work, whether these can be varied and how, entitlements to any paid leave, any other benefits not included elsewhere in the written statement, details of any probationary period and details of training provided by the employer.

Impact of not complying

The current remedies in place for noncompliance with the law on contractual provisions and written statements will remain in place under the new legislation from the 6 April 2020. Currently, an employee can make a claim to the employment tribunal following any failure to comply a section 1 statement and the tribunal is able to make a declaration or award compensation, if the employee has brought one of the substantive claims listed in Schedule 5 of the Employment Act 2002.

Next steps

Importantly, this new legislation only applies to new workers or employees that join after 6 April 2020, it does not apply to employment started under the existing rules. It is however also possible to harmonise any new clauses into existing contracts of employment, if you wished to do so. It is crucial that employers review their current contracts of employment to ensure they are up to date and in line with the new legislation and ready to issue to any new starters from the 6 April 2020.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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