Strengthening the rights of workers from April 2020 – changes to the section 1 statement
In the Good Work Plan published in December 2018 the government announced several changes to the scope of section 1 statements. The intention is to improve clarity and transparency for employees and workers alike. This is a significant change. Under the current provisions employers are required to provide employees (and not workers) with a written statement of certain particulars within two months of starting employment, but this is set to change.
The key changes from April 2020 are:
- Extending the right to ‘workers’: The most fundamental change is that the obligation to provide a written statement of particulars will be extended to workers. This is to ensure that everyone working has the same basic level of information in relation to their terms.
- Day one right: Rather than within two months of starting work, the majority of particulars will need to be provided on or before the date on which the engagement starts (although some details can be provided in a supplementary statement – see below).
- Additional particulars: The actual particulars required have been expanded so that employers will also need to provide details of:
- The days of the week the worker is required to work, whether the working hours may be variable and how any variation will be determined;
- Any paid leave to which the worker is entitled (other than sickness and holiday, details of which are already required);
- Any other benefits provided by the employer that are not already included in the statement;
- Any probationary period, including any conditions and its duration; and
- Any training entitlement provided by the employer, including whether any training is mandatory.
When does this apply?
The changes set out above will only apply to those starting work on or after 6 April 2020.
Does all the information need to be in a single document?
Whilst the majority of terms must be given in one document, some can be provided in instalments and in limited circumstances details can be provided in a “reasonably accessible” document such as a staff handbook, or collective agreement.
Is there a penalty for non-compliance?
A worker can make a complaint to an employment tribunal that their employer has failed to provide a s.1 statement, or that it is inaccurate or incomplete. Where the worker has no other successful substantive claim then their only remedy will be a declaration confirming their terms. Compensation is only available where the individual has successfully brought another claim (such as unfair dismissal, or discrimination) – the right to compensation is not freestanding. Where compensation is available it will be between 2 and 4 weeks’ pay, capped at the statutory rate.
What should employers be doing to prepare?
Whilst all employers need to revisit their template contracts to ensure compliance, the most challenging scenarios will be where casual workers on flexible arrangements are involved. Employers will therefore need to start identifying who will benefit from these changes, and what particulars the different groups of workers and employees will need.
The changes will affect all workers engaged on or after 6 April 2020 from day 1 of their engagement. Existing employees (not workers) can request from the employer a written statement complying with the new requirements, which the employer must provide within one month.
Care should also be taken when producing s.1 compliant documents to avoid non contractual policies inadvertently being elevated to contractual status.
The government has promised further guidance, but with the changes less than 2 months away, it is hoped that this guidance is provided sooner rather than later.
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