international employment law firm alliance L&E Global
United Kingdom

UK: UK government backs plans for a new right to request a predictable working pattern

The plans, which would apply to all workers and employees including agency workers, would allow people to request a predictable working pattern where:

  • they have first worked for the employer for a set period before they make their application – the period is expected to be 26 weeks according to the government’s press release
  • there is a lack of predictability as regards any part of their work pattern – although fixed-term contracts of 12 months or less are presumed to lack predictability
  • the change relates to their work pattern
  • their purpose in applying for the change is to get a more predictable work pattern.

Workers on fixed-term contracts of less than 12 months would be able to request that the term is extended so that the contract is longer than 12 months or becomes permanent.

Employers would be required to deal with applications in a reasonable manner and would only be able to reject an application on one or more specific grounds, which would include reasons such as insufficient work being available during the periods of time when the worker wishes to work or that agreeing to the request would lead to additional costs.

Eligible workers would be allowed to make a maximum of two applications during any period of 12 months. If an employer fails to comply with their obligations under the rules, the worker would be able to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal. This could result in the employer being ordered to reconsider the application or pay compensation, which is likely to be a number of weeks’ pay which will be defined in future regulations.

The proposals would, if they become law, apply in England, Wales and Scotland.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel

HR and in-house counsel should look out for further developments on whether these proposals become law.