UK: Government’s “Good Work Plan” sets out employment law reforms following the Taylor Review

The Government has today published its “vision for the future of the UK labour market”, the Good Work Plan, which builds on its earlier response to the Taylor Review (see our summary here) on the impact of digital platforms on modern working practices and the rights of workers.

This publication sets out what the Government describes as “ambitious” proposals for employment law reform, together with feedback from the four recent consultations on employment status, transparency, agency workers and enforcement.

The Government states that it has accepted the vast majority of the recommendations from the Taylor Review and proposes legislative changesĀ “to ensure that workers can access fair and decent work, that both employers and workers have the clarity they need to understand their employment relationships, and that the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose”.

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UK: Agency worker regulations require term by term comparison

The EAT has confirmed that once agency workers have accrued 12 weeks on one assignment, they will be entitled to the same pay and certain terms as comparable permanent employees at the end-user looking at each term individually, and it is not a defence that the agency worker’s overall package is at least as favourable. In this case the employer could not argue that the less favourable holiday and rest break entitlement was compensated by the agency worker’s higher hourly rate of pay.

However, because pay and holiday entitlement are viewed separately, it may be possible to pay the agency worker for the holiday entitlement in a lump sum at the end of the assignment or by identifying that part of the higher hourly pay rate that represents rolled-up holiday pay (in relation to a contractual entitlement in excess of statutory holiday), provided this is transparent and readily comprehensible. (Kocur v Angard Staffing Solutions)

Acas has published new guidance on the rights of agency workers, available here.

UK: Gig economy- Taylor Review released

The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices “Good Work” was published yesterday. It considers how technology platforms have impacted working practices and the rights of workers, and examines whether our current legislative and regulatory framework is fit for purpose. The Review focuses on the importance of quality work: “fair and decent work with realistic scope for development and fulfilment” and recommends to the government certain employment and tax reforms.

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UK: Whistleblowing- Court of Appeal decision on agency workers

Employers should note that agency workers may be able to bring whistleblowing claims against both the end-user and the third party introducer. The fact that an individual is a worker for one party does not inevitably prevent them from also being a worker (under the extended definition for whistleblowing purposes) for another party. The Court of Appeal has agreed with an earlier EAT ruling (McTigue, summarised in our blog post here) that an agency worker can be a 'worker' for whistleblowing purposes for both end-user and agency, where between them they have 'substantially determined' the worker's terms. (Day v Health Education England)

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UK: Employers could face whistleblowing liability despite decision-maker’s ignorance of protected disclosure, and for claims from agency workers

The EAT has confirmed that the reason for a dismissal can be the employee's whistleblowing, even where the decision-maker is unaware of this, if their decision has been manipulated by a manager aware of the protected disclosure and motivated by a desire for retribution.

In Royal Mail Group v Jhuti, the employee's line manager fabricated evidence of poor performance, setting unattainable targets to punish her for whistleblowing. The decision-maker relied on this evidence to justify dismissal; she was aware that the employee had queried another employee's conduct but understood that the employee had retracted the allegations on the basis that it was a misunderstanding. The decision-maker accepted this without interviewing the employee, who was unwell. Although the decision-maker was not aware that there had been a protected disclosure and genuinely considered there to be poor performance, the line manager's motivation in bringing this about had to be taken into account. The dismissal was therefore automatically unfair.

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UK: Employers can redeploy permanent employees to vacancies in priority to agency workers

Agency worker regulations provide that an agency worker has the right to be informed of any relevant vacancies in the hiring company, so as "to give that agency worker the same opportunity … to find permanent employment". The EAT has confirmed that the right is simply one of information, and does not encompass a right to be considered for vacancies on an equal footing with permanent employees. Continue reading

Asia-Pacific: Governments crack down on the use of agency and temporary workers

In the last year, we have seen governments across the Asia-Pacific region tightening their laws and regulations relating to the use of agency (dispatch) and temporary workers. At least in some cases, this is in response to a perceived over-reliance by companies on agency and temporary workers, which has led to allegations of abuse.

For example in a high-profile case in China, Gucci was criticised for using a large number of agency workers in its retail stores in China following allegations of "abuse", including allegations that pregnant women workers had miscarried because of the highly stressful working environment on the shop floor.

Changes to outsourcing and agency worker arrangements have taken place in Japan, Korea, Australia, China, Vietnam and Indonesia and are summarised below. Continue reading