Sophia Goodall, Trainee Solicitor looks at the The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 which has recently received Royal Assent and is scheduled to be implemented in September 2024.This legislation introduces a new statutory right for workers to request a predictable work pattern if they meet certain criteria. The aim is to give workers (for example those on zero-hour contracts or agency workers) greater control over the predictability of their working patterns.
Similar to flexible working requests, the key points are highlighted below:
1. “Lack of Predictability”
The Act extends its coverage to various categories of workers, including those whose existing working patterns “lack of predictability” in terms of hours or times they work. “Lack of predictability” is not defined however we know that fixed term contracts of 12 months or less will be presumed to lack predictability including individuals on zero-hour contracts and agency workers. Agency workers can make their requests either to the agency or the hirer, provided they meet certain qualifying conditions.
- Qualifying Period
To request a more predictable working pattern, workers will need to have accrued a qualifying period, it is not yet confirmed but is expected to be around 26 weeks of service.
- Request requirements
When making a request, workers must specify the change they are seeking in their working pattern and the date on which they would like this change to take effect.
These requests will be limited to two applications in any 12-month period.
- Employer Obligations:
Employers are obligated to handle requests for predictable terms and conditions in a reasonable manner and notify the worker of their decision within one month of receiving the request.
- Approved Requests:
If a request is granted, employers must offer the new terms within two weeks of approval. Importantly, employers are prohibited from making detrimental changes to other contractual terms simultaneously with the changes required due to the approved request for predictability.
6. Grounds for Refusal:
Requests may be refused on six specified grounds. These grounds include concerns about the burden of additional costs and insufficient work during the periods the worker has requested to work. The Secretary of State retains the right to add more grounds, ensuring flexibility in the legislation.
The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 aims to create more stability and security for workers. Not unlike Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, the Act aims to promote employee well-being, enhance work-life balance, and support business agility to keep up with changing attitudes and expectations.
For more information on flexible working and employment related matters contact Sophia Goodall, Trainee Solicitor.
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