In a bid to address the new types of working patterns that are associated with the gig economy, the government’s long-awaited private members’ bill entitled The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 has received Royal Assent in the House of Lords.
The bill, which forms part of the government’s 2017 Good Work Plan, gives certain workers, agency staff and employees a new statutory right to request a predictable working pattern from their employers.
This new legislation aims to redress the balance of power between businesses and members of their workforce who do not work consistent, regular hours. The act aims to balance the need for flexible-working options for both employees and businesses, while addressing unfair practices. It aims to give workers more certainty over their working hours, and more stability in regard to their income.
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These developments follow on from previous changes in employment law that have sought to strengthen workers’ rights, for example, the ban on exclusivity clauses for zero hours contracts since 2015.
Due to come into force next autumn, the act will allow workers another right to request, much like the right to request flexible working from day one legislation from the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, which is also due to come in some time next year.
According to the new law, if a worker’s existing working pattern lacks certainty in terms of the hours they work, the times they work, or if it is a fixed-term contract for less than 12 months, they will be able to make a formal application to change their working pattern to make it more predictable. It is important to remember that these requests are not an outright right and can be turned down by an employer with appropriate reasoning.
The government has asked independent public body the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to write guidance to help businesses and workers under the new law which will be published ahead of the act coming into force.
Christopher Hitchins is London managing partner and an employment lawyer at Katten UK