Working well

Modern working practices, including the rise of digital platforms, flexible working contracts and independent workers such as Uber drivers, have re-shaped the relationship between workers and employers.

To address the challenges created by this changing employment landscape, the UK Government announced it will introduce new policies to ensure workers and employers better understand their responsibilities and are adequately protected.

These are outlined in the Government’s Good Work Plan. This follows the independent Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, which recommended changes to employment frameworks to better reflect the modern labour market. 

Some of the key changes identified in the Good Work Plan include:

  • Greater clarity on employment status for workers and employers: The Government plans to propose new legislation to clarify employment status to better reflect modern working practices. This will need to consider tax implications and an online tool will also be developed to help determine employment status in most cases. No timetable has been set for the introduction of this new legislation.
  • Extension of a right to a payslip: As of April 2019, all workers, including casual, part-time, and zero-hour workers, have the right to a payslip.
  • Extension of the right to a written statement of particulars of employment: From April 2020, all workers and employees of a company will be entitled to receive a written statement on day one of their employment outlining the basic terms of their contract. Additional mandatory information must also be included such as hours to be worked and training entitlements. At present, employers have up to two months from the date of employment to provide this documentation to employees only, not workers.
  • Right to request a stable contract: After completing 26 weeks of service, all employees and workers will be able to request a more stable and predictable contract.
  • Holiday pay calculations are changing: From April 2020, holiday pay for those with irregular working hours, such as seasonal, casual or zero-hours workers, will be calculated by averaging the number of hours worked over 52 weeks instead of 12 weeks as per the current ‘pay reference period’ requirements.
  • Enforcing holiday and sick pay: The Government has committed to introduce a new state enforcement system for holiday pay and is looking to reform the Statutory Sick Pay system.
  • Extending ‘break in service’ period: The ‘break in service’ period will be extended from one week to four weeks from April 2020. This ensures an employee can maintain continuity of service and access key rights, despite a gap in work. The Good Work Plan also outlined five foundational principles to measure and assess job quality in the UK, which are satisfaction, fair pay, participation and progress, well-being, safety and security, and voice and autonomy.

 

5 foundational principles of quality work

The Government’s Good Work Plan set out to measure and assess job quality in the UK and identified five foundational principles of quality work, which include:

  1. Job satisfaction: One of the most effective ways of attracting and retaining a skilled workforce is offering job satisfaction. Being transparent about the quality of work-life balance your employees can expect can affect their decision to join and stay with you and will ultimately impact on their contribution to your business.
  2. Participation and progression: Employers can influence job satisfaction by setting out a clear pathway for staff participation and progression. This can start in the form of work experience while prospective apprentices / employees are still in school. Once a staff member has joined, knowing that there is potential to grow and develop, learn new skills and take on new responsibilities (and earn more as a result) can contribute to greater job satisfaction and an increased likelihood that they will stay with you.
  3. Safety, well-being and security: Staff safety and well-being should be a key consideration for all employers, not least those who operate within the construction industry. However, sometimes we overlook the fact that safety and well-being extend to mental health too. While workplace attitudes towards mental health are beginning to shift, it remains a difficult topic for many UK construction workers. Creating an open workplace culture where mental health is viewed as equally important as physical safety marks the beginning of a brighter future for UK construction.
  4. Fair pay: Master Builders practice fair pay amongst their employees. Recognising the efforts of highly productive staff is a great way to set an example for those who may not yet be measuring up, and to retain those who are.
  5. Voice and autonomy: Giving employees the chance to influence their own futures, and the direction of the business they work for, was shown in the Taylor Review to significantly improve engagement rates and drive a better sense of fulfilment. Businesses whose employees are truly invested perform better when faced with the challenges of a changing economy.

For more information on the Government’s Good Work Plan including details on additional changes to expect, visit: bit.ly/373YK64.

This article was published in the February / March 2020 edition of Master Builder; the magazine of the Federation of Master Builders. Click here to download the latest copy or click here to apply to join and gain unrestricted access to the back-catalogue.