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The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 (“the Act”) received Royal Assent this year and is expected to come into effect in or around September 2024.
What does the Act do?
The Act creates a new right for workers to request more predictable working conditions. Similar to the right to request flexible working, the right is to request predictable working conditions. It is not a right to those working conditions.
A worker who meets this criteria can make an application under the Act to change their work pattern, provided it is with a view to getting a more predictable work pattern.
Who will the Act apply to?
The Act applies to any worker where there is a lack of predictability in relation to the work that the worker does for the employer or in regards to any part of the worker’s work pattern. This covers a range of things, namely: the number of hours worked, the days of the week worked, the times worked on those days, and the length of the contract.
The broad nature of this list means that a wide variety of workers and employees will likely be entitled to make an application under the Act. Providing they meet the criteria, agency workers will be able to apply to their agency or to the hirer to request a more predicable working pattern.
The government has indicated that the worker must have worked for their employer for 26 weeks to make an application under the Act, and must have worked continuously for at least 12 weeks during that 26 week period.
How will it apply in practice?
The right to request more predictable working conditions will operate in a similar manner to the right to request flexible working.
The worker must specify the change they are requesting and the date it is intended to take effect. A worker can make a maximum of two applications in a 12 month period.
Employers will have to deal with requests in a reasonable manner, and may refuse only on a specific business-related ground specified in the legislation, including costs to and other negative impacts on the company.
A worker who has their right refused cannot challenge the rejection itself; they can only claim in relation to a procedural failing by the employer (e.g. a failure to respond, or a rejection for a reason given other than one of the specified business reasons). The amount of compensation awarded for such a failure will be set by regulations in due course. If it mirrors the flexible working regime, it could be limited to eight weeks pay.
When will the Act come into effect?
It is anticipated that the Act will come into effect in or around September 2024. Draft regulations and an ACAS Code of Practice should be published in the intervening period, which will enable Employers to update their policies and procedures in preparation for when the Act comes into force.
For more information please contact a member of our Employment team.