Are you confident who within your organisation or church is an employee, worker or volunteer? It’s time to try and work out who is who because things are about to change in a big way for those classified as “workers”.

As a result of “The Good Work Plan” initiative, legal changes will be impacting employment law in April 2020. Churches and organisations who engage workers and employees need to start thinking about what documents and practices they should update or introduce before April 2020.

Who is a Worker?

Worker status can be confusing.  It is a concept that includes but goes beyond employees.  Therefore, although all employees are workers, not all workers are employees.  Those who are genuinely self-employed, office holders or volunteers will not be workers.

An individual will generally be classed as a worker where:

  • There is a contract (written or otherwise) between the individual and the organisation or church;
  • The contract requires the individual to provide their services personally; and
  • The individual isn’t providing their services to them as a customer or client.

Case Study

By way of example, a church member may volunteer her services to clean the church every so often. Initially she receives no money for this and turns up whenever it suits her. The individual is likely to be a volunteer. However, over time, she continually turns up to clean on a Tuesday and on the odd occasion she doesn’t clean the church, the church is disappointed because it expects her to be there. The church starts to pay her for her service and asks her to make sure she cleans every week (although she still much autonomy). At this point, there is an expectation of a service and money is given in return for the service so there is a contract in place (even if not written). The lady is likely to now be classed as a worker (not a volunteer), even if she is not an employee.

Workers have some of the rights of employees, for example the right to paid holiday, and protection from discrimination.  They do not have all of the rights of employees, for example the right to a redundancy payment or not to be unfairly dismissed.

Highlights of the Good Work Plan (changes taking effect in April 2020)

  • All “workers” will now have the right to a statement of terms containing details of their engagement (this was previously a right only given to workers who were also employees).
  • The written statement of terms required for all workers (including employees) will contain more information than is currently required for employees. Some of the new additional details will cover: –
    • remuneration (not just pay)
    • paid leave (for example maternity and paternity leave)
    • information about any entitlement to benefits
    • how long the engagement is expected to last
    • which specific days and times workers are required to work
    • duration and conditions of any probationary period
    • entitlements to training
  • The right to a written statement of terms will now be a right from the beginning of the engagement (for employees and workers) whereas it used to be a right within the first two months of employment.
  • There is supposed to be increased clarity regarding employment status but it is, as of yet, unknown how this will be provided (reference has been made to an online tool but we will have to wait and see how this materialises).
  • There will be an awareness campaign to increase understanding around the entitlement to paid annual leave and the pay reference period for calculating holiday pay will increase to 52 weeks.
  • At the moment, an employee or worker who has a break in service of one week loses their right to continuous employment with the same employer. This break will increase from one week to four weeks.
  • There will be a right for all workers who work flexibly to request a more stable and predictable contract after 26 weeks of continuous service.
  • There is a proposal to create a state enforcement system for holiday pay (in the same way as there currently is for national minimum wage disputes).
  • There are also changes concerning the Employment Tribunal system and agency workers. If you would like more information about these other changes, please contact us.

We will be updating our Employment pack to incorporate the changes, as well as creating a new Worker Pack to help our clients with these changes. Please contact us at [email protected] or check the Resources page on our website to see when this will be available for purchase in the New Year. Please note, if you have recently purchased a pack and have subscribed to our “Premium” service, you will receive a free update to the Employment Pack.

If you want to read the Good Work Plan for yourself you can find it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-plan

This information has been provided by solicitors working for Edward Connor Solicitors. It is designed for the purpose of knowledge sharing only and does not constitute legal advice.