Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 has received Royal Assent and is expected to come into force in around September 2024.

The aim of the legislation is to address the issue of ‘one-sided flexibility’ experienced by workers in the gig economy, such as casual workers, and those on zero hours contracts who remain for long periods of time on insecure contracts.

A new statutory right

The Act will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to give workers and agency workers the right to request a predictable working pattern as a statutory right.

In order to be eligible, the workers must

  1. have a minimum length of service of 26 weeks and
  2. their working pattern must lack predictability.

It is worth noting that this Act provides a right to request a change only. An employer will be unable to make any detrimental changes to other contractual terms while making the requested changes.

How the employer can respond

Employers must deal with a request for a more predictable working pattern in a reasonable manner, and notify the worker within one month of the request being made.

The request can be rejected if the employer considers that any of the following grounds apply:

  1. The burden of additional costs in paying the employee/worker on more predictable terms;
  2. There is not enough work available during the periods the employee/worker proposes to work;
  3. There will be a detrimental impact on the recruitment of staff;
  4. There will be a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
  5. There will be a detrimental impact on other aspects of the employer’s business/agency’s business;
  6. Planned structural changes which will not allow for predictable working patterns as requested by the employee/worker.

There is provision in the legislation for the Government to add more grounds for refusal over time if necessary.

Next Steps

ACAS will publish a new statutory Code of Practice to provide guidance to employers and employees on making and handling requests and understanding the law. The draft code of practice will be published following an open public consultation. As a right to request only, the new rights are unlikely to be of any significant value to workers provided the employer follows the correct procedure.

Tyson Taylor is a senior solicitor in our employment law team.