Back in February, the government gave its backing to a Bill first proposed by Blackpool South MP Scott Benton called the ‘Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill’. This Bill is designed to tackle the one-sided flexibility that is often present in employment relationships that involve variable or zero-hour contracts.
The new rights will apply to all workers and employees. This includes those employed through agency work, who have been engaged for at least 26 weeks. The Bill proposed if a worker’s existing working pattern lacks certainty in terms of the hours they work, the times they work; or if it is a fixed term contract for less than 12 months, then they will be able to make a formal application to change their working pattern to make it more predictable.
The work pattern of a worker is made up of
If a worker works under a worker’s contract with a fixed term of 12 months or less
The Bill reached Royal Assent at the end of September which means the tackling of unfair working practices will now give workers more say over their working patterns. Plus, with the passing of this new Act, many workers will have the right to request more predictability around their working pattern should they wish to.
The Bill states the application will be in the same way as the current flexible working application. Applications can only be rejected for reasons which largely follow (but are not the same as) what is already in place for flexible working requests.
The government provide the following legislation to follow if an application is made.
Workers will be allowed to make a tribunal claim if the employer does not deal with these requests properly.
It is expected by the government that the Act and regulations will come into force around one year after Royal Assent. This is to give employers time to prepare for the changes. Acas is currently producing a new Code of Practice that will provide clear guidance on making and handling requests. This will help both workers and businesses understand the law and have constructive discussions around working arrangements that suit them both.
Employers should look at what kind of working patterns would be sustainable and practical for their business and put systems and processes in place so that they are ready when the legislation takes effect in 2024. Businesses with large casual worker or rota-based populations may wish to plan and take a strategic approach to variations in contractual hours, rather than react to a volume of individual requests.
Employers should have open and honest discussions with employees when requests do come, and make sure to respond to all requests promptly.
To find out more information or if you require any advice surrounding the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill get in contact with our team of experts.
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