GET READY FOR 2024 – WORKERS WILL HAVE NEW RIGHTS REGARDING THEIR WORKING PATTERNS
The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 has now received Royal Assent. It will come into force in September 2024 and workers and agency workers will then be able to request more predictable working patterns. These new rights will be subject to certain eligibility requirements. The process to be followed will be similar to the process for dealing with statutory flexible working requests.
Who is eligible?
The following individuals will be eligible to apply:
Workers whose hours or the times they work are uncertain.
Workers engaged on fixed-term contracts of 12 months or less. They can request a longer fixed-term or the removal of any provisions relating to fixed-term.
Agency workers (who can make their request either to the agency or the hirer provided they meet certain qualifying conditions).
Is it a Day 1 right?
No, there will be a qualifying period. This is likely to be set at 26 weeks’ service. However, to reflect the fact workers usually have unpredictable working patterns, they will not need to have 26 weeks’ continuous service.
How often can a request be made?
Only two applications can be made in any 12-month period.
What information must the worker provide?
Workers will need to specify the change they want and the proposed start date. The change could relate to hours, days or the duration of the contract.
How do we handle the request?
Any request made must be dealt with in a reasonable manner and a decision made within one month. Requests may be refused on six statutory grounds, similar to those relied on for rejecting a flexible working requests. For example, a lack of work during the periods the worker has asked to work or cost.
If a request is agreed the new terms must be sent to the worker within two weeks of granting the request.
How will we know what to do?
To assist employers and workers to navigate the new rights, ACAS intends to consult on a draft Code of Practice this Autumn for publication in advance of the changes.
Are there sanctions for getting it wrong?
There will be sanctions for getting it wrong – a tribunal can require an employer to reconsider the request. Compensation can be awarded (subject to the statutory cap on a week’s pay (£643/2023)), with full details yet to be published. However, under the flexible working regime compensation is up to eight weeks’ pay, which could be adopted here. Workers will also be protected against detrimental treatment and unfair dismissal.
While the proposal does not require immediate actions employers who rely upon a typical workers will need to introduce policies and procedures once further details of the rules and Code have been published; we will keep you updated as further information becomes available.
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This update is for general guidance only and advice should be taken in relation to a particular set of circumstances.