Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 Receives Royal Assent

Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023

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A new law designed to give workers on flexible or casual contracts more predictable working patterns has received Royal Assent.

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023, which is expected to come into force in Summer 2024, will afford workers such as temporary workers and those on zero hour contracts a new statutory right to make requests for more predictable or regular working patterns. Requested changes could relate to hours of work, days of work or the period of engagement.

The Government says its intention with the new law is to “redress the imbalance of power between some employers and workers in atypical work, encouraging workers to begin conversations with their employers about their working patterns”.

The changes come in direct response to Matthew Taylor’s 2017 review of modern working practices and the gig economy, which recommended the introduction of such a policy that would support workers who currently experience “one-sided flexibility”.

Workers will be able to make requests under the new law if they operate with irregular working hours and times or are on fixed-term contracts of 12 months or less. Agency workers will also be allowed to make requests, either to their agency or, in some circumstances, directly to the organisation they are working for.

 

The right to request predictable working

The right will function in a similar way to the right to request flexible working, whereby a maximum of two formal applications can be made within any 12-month period.

Workers will qualify for the new statutory right after a minimum service period, which is expected to be 26 weeks, although these are not expected to have to be continuous weeks given the typically irregular working patterns of those concerned.

The request must state clearly the changes being proposed and the date from which they are proposed to apply.

Employers must consider all requests made under the new law in a “reasonable manner” and the decision must be made and notified to the worker within one month of the request being submitted.

If the employer accepts the request, the new arrangements must be offered within two weeks of the decision to grant the new terms.

When making the contractual changes in favour of predictable working, employers are prohibited from making any additional changes to contract terms at the same time that would place the worker at a disadvantage or detriment.

Employers retain the right to refuse a request for predictable working, but this must be on the basis of one of six statutory grounds as specified in the Act: additional cost, ability to meet customer demand, impact on recruitment, impact on other areas of the business, insufficiency of work during the proposed periods and planned structural changes.

Ahead of the Act taking effect, ACAS will be producing a draft Code of Practice for consultation later this year, specifically to provide guidance to employers on how to manage predictable working requests.

 

Need assistance?

Ahead of the new law taking effect, employers are advised to review and update their workplace policies and procedures to take account of the new statutory right, and to ensure HR and managers are trained on how to deal with requests for predictable working. It will also be important to understand how any new terms should be incorporated within the contract of employment. For advice on how to prepare for the changes, and the specific implications of the new right on your organisation, contact us.

Last uopdated: 21 September 2023

Author

Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

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