Employee’s right to request Predictable Hours – What do you Need to Know
In 2017, in the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices it was identified that there was an imbalance in flexible working; employers used it to their advantage, often without considering the effects on workers. Workers on zero hour contracts were required to be available for work at short notice but were not guaranteed any work in return.
As a result of that review, the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 was created. It received Royal Assent on 18 September 2023 and is likely to come into effect in September 2024.
The legislation gives workers with unpredictable hours the right to request predictable working patterns, with a view to giving workers more control over their work/life balance.
Who can make a request?
The first thing to note is that the right is not just for employees but workers too, except agency workers. This is a much wider category of the workforce and could include contractors who have been wrongly classified as self-employed.
As yet, it is not clear if a worker will need a minimum period of service before a request can be made. If there is, it is likely to be 26 weeks’ continuous service.
When can a request be made?
A worker can make a request when:
• Their work pattern lacks predictability, for example they have a zero hour contract or no guarantee of hours each week;
• They are requesting a change to that working pattern, such as to their hours, days worked or the fixed term period their contract is for;
• The purpose of the request is to have a predictable work pattern.
A worker will be able to make two requests in a 12 month period.
How should an employer deal with a request?
As with flexible working requests, the worker’s right is only to make a request for predictable hours.
Once an employer receives that request they:
- Must respond within one month;
- Can only refuse this request for a specific business-related reason;
- Must deal with the request in a reasonable manner.
The business related reasons an employer can rely on are:
(i) the burden of additional costs;
(ii) the detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
(iii) the detrimental impact on the recruitment of staff;
(iv) the detrimental impact on other aspects of the employer’s business;
(v) an insufficiency of work during the periods the worker proposes to work;
(vi) planned structural changes; and
(vii) such other grounds as the Secretary of State may specify.
If the employer fails to follow the procedure correctly, the worker will have a claim for that failure, along with a claim for detrimental treatment or dismissal as a result of making their request.
Practical tips for preparing for the changes
Here are our top five tips for preparing for these changes:
- Do an audit of staff. How many are on zero hours contracts, fixed term contracts and contracts without guaranteed hours?
- Could you offer any of these staff more predictable hours? If you need some flexibility you could offer staff a minimum number of hours so they get some security, but offer them additional hours when your business needs are greater.
- Implement a policy for staff and managers to follow.
- Train staff on any policy to ensure they know a worker’s legal rights.
- Ensure requests are dealt with in line with that policy.
If you would like advice on employment contracts and requests for predictable hours, please call the team on 0207 388 1658 or email email@example.com.
Laura Pearce, Senior Solicitor
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written which may affect the information and advice given therein.