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Preparing for the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act

After passing through parliament, the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 – W(PTC)A –  is expected to come into effect in September of this year. This blog is designed to give employers and employees all the information they need to prepare for the changes to be brought about by the bill, along with practical employment law advice.


What changes will the law bring?

The statutory framework is modelled on the existing flexible working regime set out in sections 80F to 80I of ERA 1996. Regulations will provide further details of the statutory regime. The W(PTC)A will insert the following into Part VIIIA of ERA 1996:

  • A new Chapter 2 (sections 80IA-E) dealing with the right for workers to request a predictable work pattern.
  • A new Chapter 3 (sections 80IF-L) dealing with the right for agency workers to request a predictable work pattern.
  • A new Chapter 4 (sections 80IM-N) dealing with restrictions on multiple applications under Part VIIIA (which includes flexible working).

This has been in response to increasing concern around how the demand for flexible working should be facilitated by UK employers. As with the flexible working regime, employers will be able to refuse requests for statutory reasons, such as:

  • The cost to the company is too high.
  • Granting the request would impact the employer’s ability to recruit staff, meet customer demand, or cause detriment to a connected agency.
  • There is a lack of work for the employee.
  • Planned structural changes would interfere with the new working arrangement.

How employers can prepare for the new regulations

While there is no obligation for employers to grant an employee’s request for more predictable terms and conditions for work and employers in industries that rely on unpredictable working arrangements are likely to still be able to do so, it’s important that requests are dealt with properly, so they will need to introduce processes for dealing with requests for more predictable working patterns. You should also be prepared to receive a higher volume of requests for more predictable working patterns after the act passes into law. In particular, the new rules will provide flexibility to those on zero-hours contracts or with other changeable arrangements. Employers should consider whether they are likely to be heavily affected. Be advised that this law could be impacted if Labour win the 2024 general election. We’ve talked extensively about the implications for employment law in our previous blog here.

Nevertheless, it’s important that employers adhere to the new rules as they could be fined if they don’t follow the correct process in reviewing flexible working requests. As employment law consultants for employers, our advice for best practice is to:

  • Handle every request for a predictable work pattern in a reasonable manner and give it careful consideration (which includes taking account of the reasons for the individual’s request as well as the needs of the organisation).
  • Unless there is a genuine business reason not to do so (as provided by the legislation), employers, temporary work agencies and hirers must accept a worker’s request.
  • Consider whether there are alternative and suitable arrangements for providing more predictability. If there are, these should be discussed with the individual.
  • Provide the reason for denying the request if applicable (examples above).
  • Offer an appeal in the scenario where a request has been denied.

Targeted HR advice for employees and employers

Navigating a working relationship requires that both parties make reasonable adjustments for each other in consideration of what is expected. Specific employment laws are in place to provide a framework that both employers and employees must operate within. This is the case with flexible working and the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023. If you are unsure how to prepare for these changes to come into effect, don’t hesitate to contact Employment Law Services (ELS) Ltd.