On 3 February 2023 the government supported a private members’ bill called the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill. If enacted, the new legislation claims to boost the rights of tens of millions of workers including agency workers by giving them the right to request a more predictable work pattern.
In 2022 alone approximately 1.03 million people in the United Kingdom were reported to work on zero hours contracts. This marks an increase of over 100,000 on the previous year. Zero hour contracts have been subject to extensive discourse including the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices (2017) regarding the advantages and disadvantages of these type of working arrangements. The Taylor review stated “that too many employers and businesses are relying on zero hours, short-hours or agency contracts, when they could be more forward thinking in their scheduling”.
The legislation would impact workers with working patterns which lack certainty as to the number of hours an individual is expected to work, the times of day they are expected to work or if they are on a fixed-term contract for a period of 12 months or less.
If the legislation passes, all workers and employees, upon the satisfaction of a minimum work period (under current proposals expected to be 26 weeks) will be able to lodge a formal application to change their working pattern in order to make it more predictable. The employer will be able to refuse the application on seven specific grounds, such as the burden of additional costs, insufficient work at the times during which the worker proposes to work or a detrimental impact on the employer’s business. Workers will be able to submit up to a maximum of two requests per year. A worker will have the right not to be subjected to any detriment for making an application for a predictable work pattern.
What other legislative developments are proposed?
- Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill currently in the House of Lords for a second reading. This draft legislation would provide paid neonatal care leave for employees with caring responsibilities for babies who spend at least one week in neonatal care.
- The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill currently in the House of Lords for a second reading. This draft bill would afford greater protections against redundancy for pregnant women and new parents returning from a relevant form of leave.
- The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill currently in the House of Lords for a second reading. This Bill would compel employers to pay any tips, gratuities and service charges they receive or are in control of to the workers in full without any deductions.
- The Carer’s Leave Bill currently in the House of Lords for a second reading. This legislation would allow workers with caring responsibilities for a child, spouse, civil partner, parent or other dependants to take unpaid leave.
How can employers prepare?
As the government moves forwards with their strategy to ‘build and strengthen a flexible and dynamic labour market’, clients should consider the impact that the introduction of these new rights will have on their operations and employment policies. Development in employment legislation is discussed and analysed in more depth in our podcast.
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