The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 recently received royal assent, meaning it’s expected to come into effect around September 2024. It follows a series of developments intended to give workers in uncertain job roles more agency. This includes increases to National Minimum Wage and protections for unpaid carers and parents. The bill similarly provides support to workers who have traditionally been open to exploitation, such as those on zero hours contracts.
This blog provides relevant information and advice employers need to prepare for the changes that will be brought by The Workers Act 2023.
What changes does the bill bring?
The Workers Act 2023 will give workers a new statutory right to request predictable working patterns from their employer. This will apply to workers with a fixed term contract of 12 month or less and those on zero-hour contracts. The regulations also make considerations for anyone whose working patterns, times, or hours are uncertain.
The key points of the bill include:
- Employers are required to deal requests in a reasonable manner.
- Decisions on requests must be given within one month of submission.
- No more than two applications can be submitted during a 12-month period.
- When a request is granted, terms must then be offered to the worker within two weeks.
- The qualifying period for submitting a request is expected (not confirmed) to be 26 weeks. However, the worker will not have to work continuously during this time.
- Requests can be denied on grounds similar to those relevant for denying flexible working requests. Examples include additional cost burdens, difficulty recruiting staff, planned restructuring, and a lack of work during the period specified.
- The above rights will also be applied to agency workers who can apply to the agency to request a predictable working pattern.
Employment law advice for employers
As an experienced employment law advisor for businesses UK, the first thing we suggest is to examine your HR policies and procedures. The foremost effect of the bill for employers is that it encourages workers to begin conversations over working patterns. As such, you should be prepared to offer flexibility and transparency when it comes to working arrangements.
Another important area to consider is your employment contracts. Many businesses utilise unorthodox contracts due to the nature of the work conducted, or for other unique industry aspects. It’s therefore recommended for employers in these sectors to review new and existing contracts of employment to reduce friction between workers and HR staff.
Employers should also look out for the Acas draft Code of Practice, which is expected to be published for public consultation before the end of the year.
Professional employment law advice for businesses
As an employer, mandatory worker consultations enforced by laws such as The Workers Act 2023 can be a massive drain on resources. Fortunately, Employment Law Services (ELS) Ltd offer a wide range of legal services for employers designed to simplify the adoption of new regulations. Outsourcing employment law to our experienced professionals gives your team the support they need to tackle stressful issues such as working patterns. Contact us today to begin our partnership.