Right to Predictable Working Hours Receives Royal Assent

As if the last three years of changing legislation hasn’t quite been enough for HR professionals and business owners to keep up with, we are faced with more tinkering with employment law – why not?!

All kidding aside, we know, the landscape of employment law is evolving rapidly, and the most recent addition is the “Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023,” which received Royal Assent on 18th September, passing through the House of Lords. This legislation aims to provide temporary and agency workers with the right to request more predictable working hours, ushering in a new era of employment security.

What exactly does it mean? Let’s get into it…

It’s no longer 9-5…

Sorry Dolly, but since the pandemic, the traditional 9-to-5 jobs are becoming increasingly rare. The gig economy, zero-hours contracts, and temporary employment have become a normal practice. According to those backing the new legislation, such arrangements offer flexibility but often come at the cost of job security and financial stability. The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 seeks to address this issue by granting individuals in atypical work arrangements the right to request a more predictable working pattern.

Predictability and Security

Labour peer Baroness Anderson of Stoke-on-Trent emphasised that this Act will provide workers with additional predictability and security in their hours and income. At a time when many are grappling with the challenges of the rising cost of living, such measures are more crucial than ever. This new right to request predictable hours functions in a manner similar to the right to request flexible working, which was granted Royal Assent in July.

Grounds for Refusal

While this law is a step forward in favour of workers’ rights, employers will retain the ability to refuse a request for predictable hours. However, they must do so based on one of six statutory grounds:

  1. Additional cost
  2. Ability to meet customer demand
  3. Impact on recruitment
  4. Impact on other areas of the business
  5. Insufficiency of work during the proposed periods
  6. Planned structural changes

These grounds ensure that employers can decline requests only for legitimate and justifiable reasons. Therefore, employers need to know exactly what their obligations are to protect their businesses.

Addressing the Gig Economy

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 represents another crucial step in adapting the legal framework to the ever-changing world of work, especially in light of the rise of the gig economy. It aims to provide workers with a bit more certainty over their hours of work and income, striking a balance between flexibility for employers and security for employees.

An Iterative Process

These developments in employment law represent an iterative process aimed at addressing the unique challenges posed by new types of working patterns. This journey began with the ban on exclusivity clauses for zero-hours workers a few years ago and continues with this new “right to request.” Similar to the right to request flexible working, which is set to come into effect in 2024, these rights are not absolute, but can be turned down by an employer with appropriate reasoning.

In conclusion, the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 marks a turning point in the ongoing transformation of employment law which is creating more complexities for businesses when they are employing people.

We will be updating our clients with a full employment law update in the coming weeks, so do keep an eye on our LinkedIn page for the latest updates and our events

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