A Legal Right to Request a Predictable Working Pattern

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Vicki Fagan - Associate

4 minutes reading time

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill comes as part of a package of policies that the government is supporting to improve worker’s rights across the country, such as entitling carers to a period of unpaid leave to support a dependent with long-term care need, enhancing the protection of pregnant women against redundancy and making the right to request flexible working a day one right.

These employment policies aim to increase workforce participation, protect vulnerable workers and level the playing field between businesses and their workforce.

This Bill was first introduced to address the ‘one-sided flexibility’ many workers experience. Many workers across the country are currently left waiting, unable to get on with their lives in case of being called up at the last minute for a shift.

As such, this new Bill aims to allow a more predictable working pattern for workers so that there is more transparency on the number of hours, the days of the week and the times they are required to work, allowing them to have more control over their lives.

The Bill is likely to have the greatest impact on industries that rely on shift pattern workers and casual workers.

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A legal right to request a predictable working pattern

The employer’s duties and the worker’s right

If passed, the Bill will give a worker, who the same employer has employed for a ‘prescribed’ of time, the right to apply to their employer for a change in terms and conditions where:  

  1. There needs to be more predictability about any part of their work pattern (fixed-term contracts of 12 months or less are presumed to lack predictability).
  2. The change relates to their work pattern.
  3. Their purpose in applying for the change is to get a more predictable work pattern.

There is currently no clarity as to what is meant by a ‘prescribed’ period, but it is anticipated to mirror the current flexible working regime of 26 weeks’ employment;

A work pattern is likely to include the number of working hours, the working days, the working time and the period the worker is contracted for.

If passed, the Bill will allow workers to make two applications within 12 months. Employers have the option to refuse a request, but they must deal with the application reasonably and respond within one month of the application.

An application may only be rejected for specific business reasons, such as the burden of additional costs or the detrimental impact on the ability to meet customer demand or recruitment of staff, for example.

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The employers duties and the workers right

Agency workers

The Bill proposes a similar set of rights which apply to agency workers. However, different restrictions and qualifying periods apply to them.

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Agency workers

What will the consequences be for breaching the requirements?

The Bill is currently receiving government support and progressing through parliamentary stages. If the Bill is passed and becomes law, an employer who fails to follow the correct procedure when dealing with a right to request a predictable working pattern may have an Employment Tribunal claim brought against them.

An Employment Tribunal claim could result in an order for reconsideration of the application or an order for compensation.

The level of compensation is yet to be clarified, but it is anticipated that it would be similar to the award of compensation under the flexible working regime of 8 weeks’ pay.

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What will the consequences be for breaching the requirements

What next?

Employers who rely on workers having less predictable working arrangements will still be able to rely on these arrangements even if the law is passed.

However, they should start considering the procedures that will need to be implemented for dealing with these requests.

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What next

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Vicki Fagan


Vicki has 5 years of experience acting as an Employment solicitor. Vicki has specialist expertise in HR issues, claims for discrimination, unfair and constructive dismissal and whistleblowing, and the preparation of employment contracts.

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