Changes to off-payroll working (IR35) rules have been making the headlines for many months. The extent of the reforms, effective 6th April 2020, may have already led to a change in employment status for some workers in the oil and gas industry as hiring companies begin to minimise their responsibility for determining IR35 contract status, by choosing to hire on a temporary PAYE or permanent basis instead.
But April 2020 is also a time of considerable change for agency and temporary worker resourcing. Temporary workers are a vital source of skills in the oil and gas industry and, valued for its flexible nature, temporary recruitment is deployed across the sector. Receiving far fewer column inches in the media, you may not be aware of the imminent legislative changes and their impact.
In 2011 the Agency Worker Regulations (2010) came into force giving agency workers the right to the same basic terms and employment conditions, after a 12 week qualifying period, as if they had been directly recruited into the same job. Impacting pay, overtime, shift allowance, bonuses, working hours and holidays the regulations tackled discrimination against agency workers.
Then in 2016, recognising how the world of work was evolving and the importance of temporary workers to a vibrant economy, the government commenced an independent review of employment practice, it was led by Matthew Taylor. In response to recommendations in the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practice, the government unveiled the Good Work Plan, introducing extensive legislation amendments intended to better protect the rights of agency and temporary workers.
Cited as the largest upgrade in a generation to workplace rights, I’ve focused on only four of the reforms here.
This document is intended to improve the transparency of information agency workers receive in terms of their pay, including an example statement demonstrating how deductions made to a rate of pay will affect their take home pay. The key facts document must be provided to the worker for every assignment which results in changes to the recorded information.
All workers will be entitled to a written statement of particulars from day one of the working relationship (at present the obligation applies to two months of starting work). Information must be provided which includes days and times workers are required to work; duration of contract; notice period; all remuneration (not just pay); entitlement to sick leave and pay; other types of paid leave; training entitlements along with duration and conditions of any probationary period.
The holiday pay reference period is extended from 12 to 52 weeks to take account of seasonal variations. Where a worker has been employed by their employer for at least 52 weeks, the reference period is increased to 52 weeks. Where the worker has been employed for less than 52 weeks the reference period is the number of weeks for which the worker has been employed. This will impact holiday pay calculations and the subsequent rates of pay workers receive when on annual leave.
The relevant break in service for the calculation of continuous service will be extended from one to four weeks, making it easier for workers who may struggle to build up continuous service to access their rights.
The Good Work Plan intends that workers have more knowledge of their entitlements, and that is only right and fair. However, successful implementation demands effective communication between employer and worker and robust planning and implementation processes.
The old adage of fail to prepare, prepare to fail springs to mind as the burden of responsibility falls on employers to tighten up their employment practice to better protect the rights of their workers.