Promoting Fairness at Work: Understanding the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill

The Government has supported the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill, which will bring forward huge changes for tens of millions of workers across the UK.

Which workers will be affected by the Workers Bill?

This will apply to all workers and employees including agency workers, after the Taylor review found many workers on zero hours contracts experience ‘one-sided flexibility’.

This means people 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. With a more predictable working pattern, workers will have a guarantee of when they are required to work, with hours that work for them.

How will the Workers Bill work?

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill will give all employees and workers, including those working for agencies and on zero-hours contracts, the right to ask for a more predictable work pattern in terms of when they’re required to work and for how long.  

There is likely to be a service qualification for the right, probably 26 weeks for most workers and 12 months for those on fixed-term contracts, and a limit of two on the number of requests that can be made in a year.

Employers will be restricted to a set of specified reasons for refusing requests:

  • Burden of additional costs
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • Detrimental impact on the recruitment of staff
  • Detrimental impact on other aspects of the employer’s business
  • Insufficiency of work during the periods the worker proposes to work
  • Planned structural changes

Plugging the labour shortage

The Bill may plug the current labour shortage by encouraging people back into work – especially those over 50 – and help working parents. However, there is scepticism about its ability to make long-standing change. It’s crucial to note that this Bill, if passed, provides only for the right to ask for a predictable working pattern and not the right to a predictable working pattern.

The Government has estimated that, if approved by parliament, the law could impact tens of millions of workers across the UK, as many were left waiting, unable to get on with their lives in case a shift becomes available. 

Will HR’s workload increase?

Where the final decision will rest with the employer, HR would have an increased workload; particularly in businesses with seasonal variations or relying heavily on casual workers.

However, the working patterns of many atypical workers, including some on zero-hours contracts, in reality vary little. This means it should be relatively easy for them to be moved to more stable working arrangements, and employers would benefit from increased staff engagement and commitment. 

Developments in rostering systems and shift swapping Apps can assist with this, but what’s critical is a change in mindset from organisations – to find working arrangements that work for employees as well as businesses.

Contact us to schedule your complimentary consultation.