Navigating the New Predictable Work Terms Law: What Employers Need to Know

Navigating the New Predictable Work Terms Law: What Employers Need to Know

author

James Rowland

Commercial Director James leads Account Management, Sales and Marketing at Neathouse Partners.

Date

13 October 2023

Updated

17 July 2024
4 min read
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The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 represents a major shift in UK employment law. Read on for guidance on navigating these changes, to ensure that you remain compliant while supporting your workforce.

What the Law Requires

  • Employees with 26+ weeks of service can request more predictable hours/days.
  • You must respond reasonably within 1 month.
  • You can refuse requests based on set grounds like additional costs.
  • If accepted, new terms must be offered within 2 weeks.

How This Affects You

  • This law, effective from September 2024, requires you to have processes for managing employee requests. While aiming to empower staff, it recognises operational needs.
  • You should be prepared to justify refusals based on legitimate business reasons but thoughtful acceptances can signal your commitment to work-life balance and improve employee relations.
  • Non-compliance risks legal and reputational damage so meeting both the letter and spirit of this law is key.

View our compliance services to see the support available when managing the rollout of new legislation. 

Overview & What To Expect

As business landscapes evolve, so do employment laws. The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 marks a significant shift towards empowering employees with more control over their work schedules.

But what does this mean for you, the employer?

You'll know that contracts can sometimes be unpredictable. This unpredictability isn't just challenging for your staff; it can lead to inefficiencies that ripple through your business.

Under the new legislation, workers who have completed a likely qualifying period of 26 weeks (non-continuous) will be entitled to request a more predictable working pattern.

The Process: Simplicity Meets Compliance

Employees can make a maximum of two applications for predictable work terms within a 12-month period.

These applications must clearly outline the desired changes and proposed start dates, ensuring transparency and allowing for adequate preparation.

Your role? To respond reasonably and promptly. The legislation stipulates a one-month timeframe for employers to reply.

This is more than a legal obligation; it's an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to your team's work-life balance.

Assessing Requests Thoughtfully

When requests come in, take time to thoroughly assess them before responding. Consider:

  • The employee's rationale and personal circumstances.
  • Your current and projected business needs.
  • The impact on other staff and company operations.
  • Any costs of accommodating the request.

If refusing, clearly explain your reasoning in writing. Be sure it aligns with the permitted grounds, as rejections may be legally challenged.

If accepting, set expectations around implementation timelines and next steps. Move promptly to get new contracts drafted.

Grounds for Refusal: Clarity and Fairness

While the act aims to provide stability, it recognises the need for business practicality.

Employers can refuse applications based on legitimate business reasons—a provision that ensures your operational needs are considered.

These reasons might include incurring additional costs or lacking sufficient work during the periods requested by the employee.

Remember, the refusal must be reasonable and justified, underlining the importance of clear, honest communication with your staff.

Crafting Your Process for Managing Requests

Crafting Your Process for Managing Requests

To be prepared when the law takes effect, start planning your process now. Key steps include:

  • Documenting eligibility criteria like service requirements.
  • Creating a request form for staff to submit.
  • Setting internal timelines for assessing and responding to requests.
  • Training managers on how to have discussions with employees around requests.
  • Establishing who will make a final decision on requests.

We recommend consulting with staff and unions to get their input on the process. This promotes transparency and buy-in.

To ensure compliance, we can review your procedures and paperwork. Our lawyers will flag any issues to address.

Looking Ahead Proactively

The focus right now is being proactive so you’re ready to act when requests come in.

Acas' upcoming Code of Practice will provide important direction and we can assist you in interpreting how any changes could impact your processes and decisions.

We recommend asking for staff feedback regularly on how your approach to predictable work requests is going. Be open to refining things to better meet employee needs over time.

Employer Benefits Resulting From Stable Working Schedules

1. Enhanced Employee Well-being and Satisfaction:

A stable working pattern is synonymous with a stable life. When employees have predictable schedules, they can better manage their personal obligations, reduce stress, and achieve a healthier work-life balance.

This stability often translates into increased job satisfaction, mental well-being, and overall happiness, which can positively affect their commitment and productivity.

2. Reduced Turnover and Attrition:

The security and predictability of stable working hours can significantly reduce employee turnover.

When staff members can rely on a consistent schedule, they're less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere, reducing costs related to hiring, training, and lost productivity due to frequent turnovers.

3. Increased Productivity and Efficiency:

Stable scheduling can lead to more efficient work processes. When employees have consistent hours, they're better positioned to understand their tasks, responsibilities, and routines, leading to fewer errors and greater output.

Additionally, a well-rested and less stressed workforce is typically a more productive one.

4. Improved Planning and Time Management:

For employers, predictable working patterns facilitate better resource planning.

Knowing the availability of your staff in advance helps in allocating resources effectively, managing workflows, and planning for peak periods.

It also enables employees to manage their time efficiently, both professionally and personally.

5. Positive Company Reputation:

A business that promotes stable working conditions is seen as a caring and responsible employer.

This reputation can help attract high-calibre talent who value work-life balance, ultimately giving you an edge in competitive hiring markets.

6. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction:

When your workforce is stable, well-balanced, and productive, this positivity extends to customer interactions.

Employees in customer-facing roles are more likely to provide superior service when they're content and secure in their work environment, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

7. Stronger Workplace Relationships:

Consistent schedules mean employees work the same hours as their colleagues, fostering team cohesion and stronger workplace relationships.

This familiarity improves teamwork, communication, and morale.

8. Proactive Compliance and Risk Mitigation:

Adhering to legislation like the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 not only ensures compliance but also demonstrates your commitment to fair labour practices, reducing the risk of legal issues and conflicts.

9. Future-proofing Your Business:

As work culture evolves globally, flexibility and stability are becoming more coveted by workers.

Companies offering such benefits are future-proofing their operations by aligning with emerging global standards and worker preferences.

10. Economic Responsibility and Community Impact:

On a broader scale, businesses providing stable employment contribute positively to the economy.

Employees with stable jobs and hours contribute more consistently to the economy through spending, which can have a ripple effect on community prosperity.

Summary

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 marks a significant development in employment law that has wide-ranging implications.

As a caring and forward-thinking employer, embracing both the letter and spirit of this law is critical so making the right preparations and getting policies in place will aid smooth and fair management of predictable work requests when they come in.

Leveraging Our Expertise

We can work with you to navigate these changes smoothly. Our expert team of lawyers and HR specialists will:

  • Advise on setting up compliant processes.
  • Review grounds for refusal to ensure reasonableness.
  • Help draft new contracts after accepted requests.
  • Keep you updated as guidance evolves.

Contact the team via our quotation form or simply call us on 01244 893776 to discuss how Neathouse can support you through this transition.

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