As part of the reforms introduced under the United Kingdom’s Good Work Plan, amendments to Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) will impose a number of new obligations on employers in relation to written statements of particulars of employment. These changes will come into force on 6 April 2020. As such, employers may want to review and update their standard employment contracts to ensure compliance with the requirements.
The Current Position Under Section 1 of the ERA
In accordance with Section 1 of the ERA, an employee who is engaged for more than one month is entitled to a written statement that sets out the key terms and conditions of his or her employment. The ERA currently requires an employer to provide this written statement to the employee “not later than two months after the beginning of the employment.”
The ERA further requires that an employer provide the employee with certain key information (such as the names of the parties, the employee’s pay, job title, place of work, and working hours) in a single document. Other information (for example, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and benefits) can be provided in a supplementary statement.
The most widely used approach by employers is to provide employees with a contract of employment, which essentially serves the purpose of the written statement.
The New Position Under Section 1 of the ERA
With effect from 6 April 2020, the key changes to the written statement are as follows:
Written statements will now need to provide additional information, including:
An employer can choose to include further information in a reasonably accessible document or supplemental statement, provided that it is referred to in the written statement, including the particulars of any training provided by the employer and the particulars of any other paid leave (other than provisions relating to holiday and sick pay).
In addition, the employer can provide the following information within two months of the commencement of the employee or worker’s start date:
The changes affecting written statements will not apply retrospectively; therefore, an employer will not be required to provide amended and updated employment contracts to its existing workers. However, it is worth noting that these changes give existing workers the right to request written statements containing the new additional information at any time for up to three months after the end of their employment. Upon receipt of such a request, employers will have one month to provide a written statement that is compliant with the new rules.
Failure to Comply With the New Rules
Employees and workers will not be able to bring a stand-alone claim for an employer’s failure to provide a written statement. However if an employee or worker brings a separate claim in the employment tribunal, and is able to demonstrate that the employer failed to provide a compliant written statement, the employee or worker may be awarded additional compensation of two to four weeks’ pay (currently capped at £525 per week).
What Can Employers Do to Prepare for These Changes?
Employers seeking to comply with the new obligations may want to consider the following: