Wednesday 18th March 2020
by Eleanor Rhodes, Capsticks
The Government has introduced a number of important changes to the minimum written terms that all employers must provide to workers and employees in England and Wales. The changes will come into force on 6 April 2020. These minimum written terms are required by the Employment Rights Act 1996 and are often referred to as “section 1 statements”.
What information must be included in a section 1 statement?
The following information can be provided within the two months of the start of employment / engagement:
Changes to the information included in section 1 statements
In addition to the existing written terms which must be provided in a section 1 statement, from 6 April 2020 employers will also need to provide the following information:
Employers are currently required to provide this information to employees, but after 6 April 2020, the right is also to be extended to workers.
The current requirement is that section 1 statements must be provided within two months of the start of employment or the worker’s engagement. From 6 April 2020, section 1 statements become a “day one” right for employees and workers meaning that the statements must be provided on or before the first day of employment / engagement. Some information can be provided within the subsequent two month period, e.g. signposting an employee or worker to where the disciplinary and grievance procedure are available.
The changes are not retrospective, and only apply to new recruits who commence on or after 6 April 2020.
How can employers prepare for the changes?
Ensure that contracts for all workers and employees who commence employment / engagement on or after 6 April 2020 include the new changes. Employers should be mindful when making changes to contracts, to ensure that non-contractual terms are not inadvertently converted to a contractual term.
What happens if an employer doesn’t comply?
Employees and workers cannot bring freestanding claims for a failure to provide a compliant section 1 statement. However if an employee or worker brings a successful claim in the Employment Tribunal on different grounds (for example for unpaid wages, discrimination or unfair dismissal), and they successfully establish that they have not been provided with a compliant section 1 statement, the employee or worker may be awarded an additional 2 to 4 weeks’ pay. Any award is subject to a cap, which is currently £525 per week but will increase slightly on 6 April 2020.
Although the financial penalty for breaching this requirement in one case is relatively low, there is a risk that if a large workforce brought claims as part of other group litigation, the overall costs could be significant.