The UK Government has recently passed the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill, and it has received Royal Assent. This Private Members Bill will, in time, grant millions of workers more control over their working hours.
Supported by the Department for Business and Trade, the legislation aims to provide workers, particularly those on zero-hours or atypical contracts, with the right to request more predictable working patterns. If a worker’s existing working pattern lacks certainty in terms of the number of hours they work, when the hours are worked, or, if they are on a fixed term contract for less than 12 months, they will be able to make a formal application to change their working pattern to make it more predictable. Once a worker has made their request, their employer will be required to notify them of their decision within one month, a timescale even more exacting than next year’s amended legislation that will require employers to deal with flexible working requests in two months.
This move is part of a broader initiative to improve workers’ rights, including a significant increase in the National Minimum Wage, and enhanced protections for parents and unpaid carers.
The aim of the Act is expected to benefit both workers and businesses by increasing job satisfaction and staff retention. But it will also create uncertainty for a while as both sides and the Courts decide how it will work in practice.
ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, is developing a Statutory Code of Practice to guide both parties in implementing these new rights. The Act is expected to come into force approximately one year after receiving Royal Assent, allowing employers time to prepare.
- The new law is expected to come into force in about a year, so employers should consider whether this will affect them and if so, whether they start reducing their over reliance on employing workers on irregular working patterns.
- Organisations will have to review their current employment contracts and documentation to ensure they comply with the new requirements.
- Employers need to review the number of workers on atypical contracts, and whether it is likely that moving to more predictable working hours would reduce the number of formal requests they may receive.
- ACAS is proposing a public consultation on the draft Code of Practice – workers and employers should participate.
- BackupHR will let our clients know when ACAS publishes this Code of Practice. We can then provide guidance on handling requests.
The guidance provided in this article is just that – guidance. Before taking any action, make sure that you know what you are doing, or call an expert for specific advice.