The United Kingdom’s Good Work Plan amended Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) to impose a new obligation on employers to provide all employees and workers with a written statement setting out key terms and definitions of their employment contracts, on their first day of work. The changes became effective on 6 April 2020.
Position Under the Amended ERA
Under the amended ERA, all workers—including, for example, zero-hours workers and intermittent workers—have the right to receive on either the day before or the day of employment a written statement of their employment terms. Previously, employees had the right to the written statement only after they had been employed for one month.
Written statements must include:
- the specific days and hours employees are required to work;
- any probationary period and terms of the probation;
- how long the job is expected to last;
- how much time employers and employees or workers are expected to provide before terminating the employment agreement;
- details of eligibility for all types of paid leave;
- all types of remuneration;
- employer-provided benefits; and
- training entitlements that the employer requires employees to complete.
Employers can provide additional information in a reasonably accessible document—such as on a company’s intranet—or supplemental statement, so long as it is referred to in the written statement.
Not all required information is due on the first day of employment. Employers have up to two months to provide information regarding pensions and pensions schemes; collective bargaining agreements that may affect the terms of engagement; and any other training entitlements not addressed in the initial written statement.
Failure to Comply With the New Rules
Employees and workers may make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal where an employer has failed to provide a written statement. An Employment Tribunal is only able to make a declaration as to the particulars the employee or worker should have received from his or her employer, and no award of compensation is available.
However, a monetary award is available where an employee or worker successfully brings a substantive claim and at the same time brings a claim in relation to his or her entitlement to a written statement.
Tips for Compliance With Amended ERA
There are several steps that employers may wish to consider to ensure compliance with the updated ERA, including:
- ensuring that onboarding processes involve employment contracts (or alternative forms of the written statement) being issued on or before the first day of employment;
- reviewing and updating current employment contracts to include the new information, and reviewing other policies or handbooks to ensure consistency; and
- ensuring that other information will be provided either in a reasonably accessible document or in a supplementary statement.
Written by Heather Hanlon of Ogletree Deakins
© 2020 Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.