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HR | Employment Law | Health & Safety

Understanding the New Workers Act 2023

James Rowland

James Rowland

Commercial Director

New Workers Act 2023

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The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 is set to come into force in September 2024, introducing a statutory right for workers to request more predictable working patterns.

As an employer, it’s important to understand these new regulations and how to handle requests professionally. Get ahead of the changes by reviewing best practices now.

Who Does This Apply To?

The new right to request predictable hours will apply to you if you employ workers whose current arrangements lack certainty in their working hours or times.

It also covers workers on fixed-term contracts of 12 months or less. In addition, agency workers can make requests to either their agency or hirer, provided they meet qualifying conditions.

Specifically, it applies if you have:

  • Employees on zero-hour contracts or variable shift patterns
  • Workers on short-term contracts
  • Agency workers placed with you

After 26 weeks of service, these employees have the right to request more predictable schedules. Service does not need to be continuous.

How Many Requests Can Be Made?

Employees can make a maximum of 2 requests within any 12-month timeframe. Each application must specify the change requested and the proposed date it should take effect. For example, an employee could request set days or hours of work each week.

Handling Requests

As the employer, you must deal with requests in a reasonable manner.

A formal response indicating whether the request is accepted or rejected must be provided within one month.

If granting a request, you must offer new terms within two weeks.

Importantly, you cannot make detrimental changes to other contractual terms just because you approved more predictable hours.

Grounds for Refusal

There are several grounds for reasonably refusing a request:

  • Additional costs burden
  • Insufficient work available during proposed times
  • Planned structural changes to the business
  • Detrimental impact on quality or performance
  • Inability to meet customer demand with proposed changes
  • Lack of work during proposed hours

The Secretary of State may expand grounds for refusal in the future.

Best Practices

Best Practices

Follow these tips to professionally handle requests under the new Workers Act:

  • Review current arrangements – Audit schedules and contracts to determine who can make requests
  • Plan ahead – Forecast upcoming requests and make necessary adjustments
  • Communicate the process – Inform employees how requests will be handled
  • Consult line managers – Get insight into the impact on operations before making decisions
  • Provide clear written responses – Whether approved or rejected, explain the outcome transparently
  • Consider trial periods – Test out new arrangements before permanent changes
  • Analyse costs – Assess potential increased costs associated with more predictable hours
  • Seek compromise – If unable to accommodate the exact request, explore alternatives
  • Update policies – Review handbooks, contracts and absence policies ahead of changes

Why It Benefits You

While providing more certainty around hours comes with some challenges, the Workers Act 2023 can also benefit your business and employees in several ways:

  • Increased engagement – Employees feel valued when they have stability and work-life balance. This improves retention.
  • Enhanced well-being – Regular hours enable better health, reducing stress and absenteeism.
  • Higher productivity – Predictable shifts allow employees to manage responsibilities outside of work more effectively.
  • Improved compliance – Taking a professional approach ensures you meet legal obligations.
  • Stronger talent attraction – Being an employer of choice boosts your ability to recruit top talent.

Make sure your business is ready for the Workers Act 2023 by reviewing your approach to shift patterns and contracts. Seek guidance from employment law specialists if you need support establishing processes to handle requests positively when the regulations come into effect.

Next Steps

Navigating new legislative terrain can be daunting but our expert team can help you to smoothly transition and adapt to the Workers Act 2023.

  1. Consultations: Our team of legal experts offers consultations to help clarify any questions or concerns you might have about the Workers Act 2023.
  2. Workshop Sessions: Enroll in our specially designed workshop sessions that aim to provide in-depth training for HR teams, managers, and decision-makers on how to handle requests and stay compliant.
  3. Custom Policy Drafting: Neathouse can assist in revising and updating your current contracts, handbooks, and absence policies to be in line with the new regulations.
  4. Continuous Support: As the implementation date approaches, expect regular updates, FAQs, and guidelines from our end, ensuring you’re always informed and ready.
  5. Feedback Analysis: After the Act is in place, our team will be available for feedback sessions to ensure the changes have been integrated smoothly within your organisation.

Contact the team via our quotation form or simply call us on 01244 893776.

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