Workers whose working pattern differs from week to week will soon have the right to request a change.

On 18 September 2023, the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill received Royal Assent, becoming the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 (the 'Act') (see the government's Press Release). The Act will amend the Employment Rights Act to create a statutory right for workers to request a predictable working pattern, meaning a change to the hours, days of the week or period for which they are employed, where the purpose of the request is to make these more predictable. The regime could be used by those who work shifts that change from week to week or are engaged on an ad hoc basis and would like more regularity. The right will be exercisable by workers – a wider category than those on employment contracts.

The right will also extend to those on fixed term contracts of less than one year, who wish to work for a longer period. There will also be an equivalent right for agency workers.

The new regime will operate in a similar way to the regime for dealing with requests for flexible working. Employers will be expected to deal with requests reasonably, provide the worker with an outcome within a month and only refuse a request on one of the grounds specified in the Act, namely the burden of additional costs, detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand, detrimental impact on the recruitment of staff, detrimental impact on other aspects of the employer's business, insufficiency of work during the periods the worker proposes to work or planned structural changes.

The government expects that the new rights created by the Act will come into effect from September 2024, to give employers a chance to prepare. ACAS will be consulting on a draft Code of Practice to provide guidance on how requests should be made and considered.

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