UK: New Right to Request a Predictable Working Pattern
Authors: Charlie Urquhart, Ruth Bonino and Sophie Jackson
New legislation was passed into law in September which will give some workers and agency workers who have an unpredictable working pattern (for example in terms of the hours or times they work), the right to apply for a change to their terms and conditions of employment to get a more predictable working pattern.
We do not have all the details of how this new right will work yet. What we do know, is that it will include those on a fixed term contract of 12 months or less, which is presumed to be inherently unpredictable, and those on zero hours contracts.
Employers will have one month to respond to these requests and will only be able to reject an application on one or more grounds that will be set out in legislation, such as where there is not enough work during the periods of time when the worker proposes to work. Eligible workers will be allowed to make up to two applications in any 12-month period.
Workers will be able to bring an employment tribunal claim for unlawful detriment or automatic unfair dismissal if they suffer detriment or are dismissed for exercising this right. They will also be able to bring a claim if the employer does not follow the correct process when dealing with a request.
Further details, including the length of service a worker, will need to have in order to be able to make a request (expected to be 26 weeks), and a new ACAS code of practice, are expected to be published in the coming months. The government estimates that the right will come into force around a year from now.
Millions get more power over working hours thanks to new law – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The National Living Wage is set to increase to at least £11 per hour from April 2024
The Chancellor has committed to increasing the National Living Wage (NLW) from April 2024 as recommended by the Low Pay Commission (LPC). The LPC’s recommendations are due to be announced in November but based on the LPC’s latest forecasts, it is expected that the NLW will increase to over £11 per hour. The NLW is currently applicable to workers aged 23 and over, but from April 2024 workers aged 21 to 22 are due to be moved onto the NLW.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-House Counsel
Employers with atypical workers should start preparing for handling requests for more predictable working patterns under the new legislation when the right comes into force. They should also keep an eye out for further updates on the increase to the NLW.