A Bill giving workers the right to request more predictable terms and conditions in their working pattern has received royal assent.
The Bill is aimed to give more certainty for workers’ hours and earnings. The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act received royal assent on 18 September 2023 and is due to come into effect in a year’s time. It will be supported by a statutory code of practice to help workers and employers understand the law and to provide guidance on how requests should be made and considered.
Who does the act apply to?
The Act applies to workers and agency workers and gives them the right to request a more predictable working pattern hours where:
- There is a lack of certainty in terms of the hours or times they work, or if they have a fixed term contract for less than 12 months;
- The change relates to their work pattern; and
- Their purpose in applying for the change is to get a more predictable work pattern.
Workers must have worked a minimum amount of time at an organisation before they have the right to apply for predictable working and this is expected to be a minimum period of 26 weeks.
Workers must also have not made more than two applications for predictable working in the previous 12 months preceding the application.
The duty for employers
Employers must deal with the request made by the worker within one month.
Employers will have to pay careful attention to ensure they have followed a fair process in answering the worker’s request, especially where the worker has protected characteristics. If they fail to do so, they could face claims for procedural failings, unlawful detriment and automatic unfair dismissal.
Grounds on which employers can reject the request
The new law gives the workers to make a request, rather than to have the predictable working patterns. In a similar way to flexible working requests, employers will only be able to refuse the request of a worker on one of six statutory grounds:
- Additional cost to the business
- Lessened ability to meet customer demand
- Impact on recruitment
- Impact on other areas of the business
- Insufficiency of work during the proposed periods; and
- Planned structural changes
What must employers do now?
There is plenty of time for employers to get prepared and to review any existing contracts, working practices and policies on working patterns. Where employers do not currently have a policy on predictable working, they should implement a policy in preparation for when the changes come into effect.
How Moore Barlow can help
Employers need to be confident their business is fully compliant and that they are up to date with the additional rights of staff. The Employment law team at Moore Barlow can advise on predictable working policies and requests. Please do not hesitate to contact us.