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Food and drink: employment changes

Employers in the Food and Drink sector will be looking to the year ahead and what that means for their workforce.  There are some important changes being introduced in employment law which employers should be aware of in 2020.

Heavy reliance on temporary and agency workers in the sector

It is estimated that 69% of employers in the food and drink sector use temporary, agency or casual workers. This is a significant figure and the highest levels are found in manufacturing and service sub-sectors. Two of the key reasons for the sector’s reliance on temporary workers are referred to by the Food and Drink Sector Council as being related to seasonal demand and a lack of local labour with the right skills.

The changes we have highlighted below focus on the reliance on agency and temporary workers within the sector.

Right to a written statement of terms and conditions of employment from ‘Day One’

Currently, employees who have been continuously employed for more than one month must be provided with a written statement of terms and conditions of employment within two months of commencing employment. From 6 April 2020, all new employees and workers will have the right to this from their first day of work. This will apply to all engagements, regardless of their length, so there will be an increased burden on employers who have engaged employees or workers for short periods of time and haven’t issued such statements historically.  It will also impact businesses which have a large number of casual workers who have not had to issue such statements to them before.

Additional information will have to be included as part of the extended right, such as:

  • Working days
  • Variability in hours / days
  • Any paid leave, for example, maternity leave
  • All benefits
  • Any probationary period
  • Certain information on training

There is no need to update contracts of employment / statements of particulars for individuals who started employment before April 2020. However, anyone who requests a section 1 statement must be provided with one; and any such statement must comply with the new requirements.

Changes to any such terms must be notified within one month of the change. All employees and workers must be notified of any changes, including those employed before April 2020 who didn’t receive information on those particulars in their original statement of terms and conditions of employment.

Therefore, employers in the food and drink sector should ensure that all employees and workers engaged from April 2020 (even those employed on a temporary basis) are issued with a written statement of terms in line with the above guidance from day one.

Amendments to Agency Workers Rules

From 6 April 2020 all employment businesses and employment agencies will have to provide agency work-seekers with a key facts statement, before agreeing the terms by which the work-seeker will undertake work. The document must be headed “Key Information Document”, be separate to any other documents provided to the work-seeker and include specified information including the contract type, minimum rate of pay, how they will be paid, annual leave and holiday pay entitlement, and any deductions.

Key Date: 6th April 2020

  • All new employees and workers will have the right to a written statement of terms on their first day of work;
  • All agency workers are entitled to a key facts statement before agreeing to the terms of work with an employment business or employment agency.

Other proposals and consultations

Employers may also wish to access our 2020 HR to-do-list which was published at the start of January, highlighting all of the forthcoming changes and current proposals and consultations on HR and employment law related issues.

In the meantime, please get in touch with any queries on any of the above. Workbox users can also have a look at the What’s new? page for more details.

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