The brand-new Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 received royal assent on 19 September 2023. It has come as part of a recent flurry of new worker orientated laws intended to upgrade employment rights to address the imbalance present in the UK’s modern economy. However, although the Act is on the statute book, it will not come into force until next year. David Sheppard and James Hudson report on the act below.
The new Act is designed to target those on zero hours contracts and gig-economy workers.
Workers, including agency workers, have the right to request changes in their terms and conditions of employment. This grants them the opportunity to achieve a more stable and predictable work schedule, addressing any existing uncertainties in their current work patterns.
A work pattern includes:
An employer must deal with any application for a more predictable work pattern in a reasonable manner, notify the worker of the outcome within one month from the date of the application, and can only reject the application for one of the following prescribed reasons:
A worker can make a maximum of two applications in any 12 month period, and must be made in writing, confirm it is a statutory predictable working application, and must specify the change in work pattern requested and the date it is to commence. Agency workers can make an application to either the agency or the end-user of their services and can also request to be provided a contract of employment.
The employer would need to set up an initial meeting, then a follow up meeting to discuss the issues. If the worker fails to attend those meetings, the application is to be treated as automatically withdrawn. The employer would then either allow or reject the application within one month.
If allowed, then the employer must offer a new employment contract reflecting the change in working pattern on terms no less favourable than the previous contract. If rejected, then the employer must set out its reasons for this and allow an appeal, should the worker want to exercise this right.
Under section 80ID of the Act it allows a worker to present a complaint to an employment tribunal if:
An employment tribunal could then either order compensation or the reconsideration of the application.
We anticipate employers will be wary of large volumes of applications and will be keen to follow the new statutory regime and ensure they have valid reasons for rejecting any requests. Although the Act does not come into force until next year, it would be wise for all employers to comprehensively understand the Act, its effects, and consequences.
Should you need any advice on this new update (or Employment law more widely) we have a breadth of expertise to help you. Contact us here