Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 Given Royal Assent

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What does the new Act say? 

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: 

  • The number of hours worked 
  • The days and times of the work 
  • The period that the worker is contracted to work and 
  • Any other aspects the Secretary of State may specify by regulation. 

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: 

  • The burden of additional costs 
  • The detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand 
  • The detrimental impact on the recruitment of staff 
  • The detrimental impact on other aspects of the employer’s business 
  • Insufficiency of work during the periods the worker proposes to work 
  • Planned structural changes and  
  • Other such grounds the Secretary of State may specify by regulations. 

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 If the worker fails to attend those meetings, the application is to be treated as automatically withdrawn.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. 

What happens if an employer doesn’t follow the Act? 

Under section 80ID of the Act it allows a worker to present a complaint to an employment tribunal if: 

  1. The employer failed to reject the application for one of the specified reasons above 
  2. If granting the application, an employer has failed within the offer period to give the worker a new contract of employment reflecting the change in working pattern on terms that are no less favourable 
  3. The application was rejected based on incorrect facts or 
  4. The application is treated as withdrawn where the worker has not failed to attend both meetings arranged by the employer, or the worker has failed to attend both meetings by the employer related to the appeal following a rejected application.  

An employment tribunal could then either order compensation or the reconsideration of the application.  

How can we help? 

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