Over the years it has been shown that some employers have not been using zero hour/casual contracts in the correct way, which has resulted in a one-sidedness in the employers favour and some workers completing many hours on a casual working arrangement without the same job security as an employee.
As a result of this, earlier this year the Government communicated their proposals to introduce legislation aiming to give better predictability to workers. It has now been confirmed that the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill has received Royal Assent, becoming the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023.
The Act will give workers and agency workers the statutory right to request a predictable working pattern where:
· There is a lack of predictability in relation to their working pattern;
· The change relates to their work pattern; and/or
· Their purpose for applying for the change is to get a more predictable work pattern.
When a request is made the worker will be required to state the requested change and the date they want it to take effect – on receipt of the request, the employer must make their decision within one month. The employer can only reject the application where one or more of the statutory grounds stated in the Act apply, very much like when rejecting a flexible working request.
Workers will be entitled to make a make a maximum of two applications within any twelve month period and it is expected that they will need to have 26 weeks’ cumulative service (unlike with the flexible working request where 26 weeks’ continuous service is required). Once a request is authorised, the new terms must be offered to the employee within two weeks of that approval.
Workers will be protected from suffering any detriment as a result of making an application.
ACAS are preparing a new statutory Code of Practice to help employers and workers understand the new Act and how to manage predictable working requests. A draft Code of Practice is expected to be available for consultation this Autumn, 2023 and in order to give companies the opportunity to prepare for these legislative changes, the Act is expected to come into force in September 2024.
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