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New law gives tens of millions more say over their working hours

The government has backed a law that gives all workers the legal right to request a predictable working pattern.

The government supported Blackpool South MP Scott Benton’s Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill, which will bring forward huge changes for tens of millions of workers across the UK. The move, which would apply to all workers and employees including agency workers, comes after a 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.

If a worker’s existing working pattern lacks certainty in terms of the hours they work, the times they work or if it is a fixed term contract for less than 12 months, they will be able to make a formal application to change their working pattern to make it more predictable.

Subject to parliamentary approval, all workers and employees will have this new right once it comes into force, however, they must first have worked for their employer a set period before they make their application. This period will be set out in regulations and is expected to be 26 weeks. Given the proposals aim to support those with unpredictable contracts, workers will not have had to have worked continuously during that period.

Employers do have the option to refuse a request for a more predictable working pattern on specific grounds, such as the burden of additional costs to make changes, or there being insufficient work at times when the employee proposes to work. Workers will be able to make up to 2 requests a year.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy February 2023


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