Employment Update: Predictable?
29 Sept 2023
The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill received Royal Assent on 18 September 2023. The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 and introduces a right for workers and agency workers to request a more predictable work pattern where:
There is a lack of predictability as regards any part of their work pattern (fixed term contracts of 12 months or less are presumed to lack predictability);
The change relates to their work pattern (for example, hours of work, days of work or period of engagement);
Their purpose in applying for the change is to get a more predictable work pattern.
There will be a qualifying period specified in the regulations, but the stated intention is that employees must have 26 weeks service to access the right.
A maximum of two applications can be made in any 12-month period and applications may be refused on specified statutory grounds in a similar approach to the statutory flexible working regime. As it stands, there are six statutory grounds listed in the Act, including:
The burden of additional cost.
Insufficiency of work during the periods the worker proposes to work.
Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand.
Detrimental impact on the recruitment of staff.
Detrimental impact on other aspects of the employer’s business.
Planned structural changes.
The Secretary of State reserves the right to add more grounds.
Employers will be required to notify workers of their decision within one month of receiving the request and, if an employer does grant a request, they must offer the new terms within two weeks of granting the request.
Employers cannot make detrimental changes to other contractual terms at the same time as making the changes to the employee’s working pattern where a request has been granted.
Workers will be able to bring claims based on procedural failings by the employer, unlawful detriment and automatic unfair dismissal.
The Act has been designed to give workers more certainty over their hours of work and income. The greatest impact will be on those employers who largely engage atypical workers, fixed term workers or zero-hour workers where shift patterns change according to rotas and where work is typically casual in nature.
Business and Trade Minister Kevin Hollinrake stated:
"Although zero hours contracts can often suit workers who want to work flexibly and employers whose needs vary, it is unfair for anyone to have to put their lives on hold to make themselves available for shifts that may never actually come - this Act helps to end the guessing game.
A happier workforce means increased productivity, helping in turn to grow the economy, which is why we’ve backed these measures to give people across the UK more say over their working pattern.”
The Act, and regulations providing the specific details, are expected to come into force in September 2024 so that employers have time to prepare. In the meantime, ACAS will produce a draft Code of Practice for consultation in Autumn this year which will provide further guidance on the making and handling of requests.
As always, if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Employment Team at CG.