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Change to the law: Right to predictable working pattern

Workers will be able to request a predictable work pattern from 2024

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 received Royal Assent in September 2023 and is expected to come into force in September 2024.

Whilst employers do not need to implement any changes currently, it is a good idea to consider whether the Act will impact upon your business to enable you to prepare for its implementation.

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023.

The Act will introduce a new statutory right which will enable workers and agency workers the right to request a more predictable working pattern. For instance, if you employ anyone on a zero-hour contract, they would have the right to make a request for their working pattern to be more predictable.

Those employed on a fixed term contract of 12 months or less are also deemed to have an unpredictable working pattern and would therefore be able to make a request under the Act. However, the purpose of the request must be to either extend the fixed term contract or convert it to a permanent contract.

How will the request process work?

The process for making a predicable working pattern request will largely follow the same process as that in place for making a flexible working request, in that the request needs to be put in writing. In addition, a worker needs to have been working for you for a period of 26 weeks, however, these weeks do not need to be continuous as it is appreciated that the nature of the work is ad-hoc.

As with a flexible working request, a predictable working pattern request can be refused on specific grounds, and there are currently six listed within the Act which are:

  • Burden of additional costs;
  • Detrimental impact on the recruitment of staff;
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
  • Detrimental impact on other aspects of the employer’s business;
  • Insufficiency of work during the periods the worker proposes to work; and/or
  • Planned structural changes.

A worker is able to make two requests in a 12-month period.

Agency workers would also be able to make requests under the Act, and these can be made their agency provider. However, they will also have the ability to apply to the business they are currently carrying out work for if they have been engaged continuously for 12 calendar weeks and remain engaged at the time the request is submitted.

Responding to a request

If a worker submits a request for a predictable working pattern, then it must be dealt with reasonably and within one month, which includes time for the worker to appeal the decision in the event the initial request is refused.

If you feel you are able to grant the request, then you can simply confirm this in writing. However. If you are unsure whether you will be able to grant the request, you should invite the worker to a meeting and discuss the request in more detail. It may be that you are able to reach a compromise which enables you to grant part of the request.

Regardless of the decision, you must notify the worker of the outcome in writing and provide them with the opportunity to appeal in the event the request is refused.

More guidance to follow

ACAS has opened a consultation on a draft Code of Practice in relation to these requests, which once complete will provide additional guidance on the process and what employers obligations are.

Action to take

  1. Consider if you have any workers who may qualify under the new right.
  2. Review any zero-hour contracts and/or unpredictable arrangements and see if they still work for the business and individual.
  3. Keep an eye on this newsletter and updates from us about the code of practice and further guidance.
  4. Nearer the time consider implementing a policy on this into your handbook.

If you have any questions regarding predicable working requests, please do not hesitate to contact me or a member of the team on 01983 897003.

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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.

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