New right for casual workers to request predictable hours of work

October 30, 2023

By Owen John

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act has recently gained Royal Assent, which will give workers a new statutory right to request more predictable hours or days of work. There is no date for implementation yet, but it is not expected to come into force until September 2024. Our employment team has explored how this change could affect your organisation.

What will change?

The Act will give workers a new statutory right to request a more predictable working pattern. Workers will be able to apply to their employer (or to their hiring business if they’re an agency worker) for a change to their working pattern to give them more predictability in terms of hours and income.

This process is similar to the right to make a flexible working request, in that requests must be made in writing, need to be dealt with under a similar process, and may only be refused on one of a series of specified grounds.

The right will apply to the following:

  • workers who have existing working patterns but lack certainty in their hours or times they work;
  • workers who are on fixed-term contracts of 12 months or less;
  • agency workers (who may make their request to the agency or the business in which they work).

Workers can make a maximum of 2 applications in any 12-month period. The request could relate to hours of work, days of work or the length of their contract.

What does this Act mean for employers?

Employers will likely deal with such requests in the same way as they deal with existing flexible working requests. Employers should bear in mind that the Act does not provide a guaranteed right to predictable working, but a right to request predictable working, and they should deal with the application within one month of receiving it. Employers will be able to refuse the request for one or more of the following six grounds:

  • Burden of additional costs;
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
  • Detrimental impact on the recruitment of staff;
  • Detrimental impact on other aspects of the temporary work agency’s, hirer’s, or employer’s business;
  • Insufficiency of work during the periods the worker or agency worker proposes to work;
  • Planned structural changes.

Employers should keep in mind that workers can complain to the Employment Tribunal if their request is not dealt with in accordance with the new rules, including where the employer fails to deal with a request in a reasonable manner or rejects an application based on incorrect facts.

In terms of the process for dealing and deciding upon requests, ACAS is currently drawing up guidance on how this should be done but it is likely to involve holding a hearing with the worker, confirming the decision in writing, and granting the right of appeal.

Watch this space for further updates in due course.

If you need any advice on the above, please contact Owen John, or a member of our employment law team in confidence here or on 02920 829 100 for a free initial call to see how they can help.

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