A “Private Members Bill” known as the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill has recently been introduced and, unusually for such type of potential legislation, it has received Government backing. The Bill is designed to give employees, workers and agency workers the right to request a “predictable working pattern”, in particular circumstances.
The idea is to address the problem of so called “one sided flexibility” where an individual has no guarantee of work under a zero hours contract for example, but is expected to be available, often at short notice, as and when required. Measures to address this were recommended under the Taylor Review way back in 2017 and following a Government consultation known as The Good Work Plan. The Government itself did not publish any formal response to recommendations made on this particular issue, hence the introduction of the Bill by a Member of Parliament.
The circumstances in which the right to request the predictable work pattern would arise are:-
- Where there is a lack of predictability as regards any part of the work pattern – fixed terms contracts of twelve months or less are presumed to lack predictability for this purpose.
- The change requested relates to the work pattern.
- The purpose in applying for the change is to achieve a more predictable work pattern.
Under the proposed Bill, two applications may be made in any twelve month period and there is likely to be a minimum qualifying service requirement of 26 weeks.
The Bill sets out a very similar statutory framework to the flexible working application requests that can currently be made under that regime. There will be prescribed statutory grounds upon which an employer may reject a request for example, and there will be similar rights not to be dismissed or suffer a detriment for having made an application. Employees dismissed for making an application will be automatically unfairly dismissed, irrespective of service length.
As with the flexible working request regime, the Bill is designed to create a right to request, not a right to have a predictable working pattern, and it remains to be seen how effective in reality it will be in addressing the perceived “one sided flexibility” issue, if it comes into being.
The Bill, if passed, is likely to become law later this year and we will provide an update as to the final position and the new law, if and when this happens.
If you would like more information about this Bill or any other employment law advice please do get in touch with one of the Employment Team.