Workers (Predictable Terms And Conditions) Bill Receives Royal Assent

Predictable Working Act

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill received Royal Assent on 18 September 2023, meaning that the Bill will be introduced as the Predictable Working Act 2023.

This comes after the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices and the resulting 2018 Good Work Plan, where the Government committed to introduce policies to help workers have more certainty in their working patterns.

The Government previously backed the Private Member’s Bill earlier this year regarding the issue of ‘one-sided flexibility’ experienced by employees in the hospitality industry/gig economy, for instance, zero hours and casual working hours with staff who stay on insecure contracts for long periods of time.

What does the Workers Predictable Term and Conditions Act (Predictable Working Pattern Act) propose?

The Predictable Working Act will allow eligible workers the right to request a more predictable working pattern where:

  • “…there is a lack of predictability as regards any part of their work pattern (the work pattern being the number of working hours, the days of the week and the times on those days when the worker works, and the length of the worker’s contract)”
  • “the change relates to their work pattern”
  • “their purpose in applying for the change is to get a more predictable work pattern”

There are certain requirements, such as the application must say that it is a request for a more predictable working pattern. The application must also specify the change applied for and the date on which it is proposed it should take effect.

However, it is important to note the Predictable Working Act does not include other earlier Government commitments to introduce a right to reasonable notice of working hours and compensation for shifts cancelled without reasonable notice.

Who is eligible to apply?

In order for an employee to be eligible to apply to change their working pattern they need to have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks, although this does not have to be continuous.

Agency workers who fill out applications directly to their line manager will have to have worked for their employer for at least 12 weeks continuously during that 26 period. Agency workers may also be able to apply to the employer for a contract of employment or other worker’s contract, as this is likely more predictable than their current working pattern.

What should I be doing as an employer?

Employers will be required to handle any requests within a reasonable manner to also give you a response within one month.

There are several reasons an employer may reject an application, such as if it:

  • Imposes additional costs on the company;
  • Effects ability to meet customer demand;
  • Has a negative impact on recruiting staff;
  • Has a negative impact on various aspects of the employer’s company; or
  • Doesn’t comply with busy working periods.

It’s important to note a maximum of two applications is allowed during any 12-month period.

The requirements still apply if the worker’s contract ends during the one-month ‘decision period.’ However, employers can still reject requests if grounds show for acting reasonably in dismissing for misconduct or redundancy.

It is important to note that an employee can bring an Employment Tribunal claim if the employer fails to follow the requirements listed above. If the employee’s claim is successful then this could mean reconsideration of the request or even compensation. The considerable amount of compensation will be set by regulations and it could even be limited to eight weeks’ pay, the same as under the flexible working regime.

Comment

The Government have said that the measures in the Act and secondary legislation are planned to be enforced in around one year after the date of receiving Royal Assent, this will give employers time to prepare for the changes ahead.

In addition to this Acas will be publishing a new Code of Practice, including guidance on how to make and deal with requests from employees for a more predictable working pattern. We will see a draft Code of Practice ‘in the coming weeks.’

How can we helpPredictable Working Act

Kate Frisby is an Associate in our expert Employment Law team, advising on performance management, the drafting of policies and contracts, settlement agreement negotiations and assisting with claims in the Employment Tribunal.

For advice on or further information in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Kate or a member of our expert Employment Law team in DerbyLeicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.

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