Acas launches consultation on draft Code of Practice for requesting a predictable working pattern
- AuthorMartin Cornforth
The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act received royal assent on 18 September 2023. The new legislation will give employees and workers a right to request a predictable work pattern under the Employment Rights Act 1996, subject to certain eligibility criteria. It is expected to come into force in autumn 2024.
The Act will give certain workers and employees a new right to request a predictable working pattern if their existing working pattern lacks predictability.
Acas has agreed to a request from the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) to produce a new statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for a predictable working pattern.
The draft Code of Practice may be changed following consultation. A link to the draft code can be found here.
Within the draft code the word 'should' is used to indicate what Acas considers to be good employment practice, rather than legal requirements. The word 'must' is used to indicate where something is a legal requirement.
The draft Code outlines a suggested procedure for dealing with requests for a predictable working pattern. Employers should convene a meeting to discuss the request, so that they can consider the worker's current working pattern and assess the impact of the requested change for both the employer and the worker, including the potential benefits and drawbacks. Such meetings should be held without unreasonable delay and the worker should be allowed to be accompanied. Employers should inform the worker of the outcome of their request in writing, in a reasonable timeframe, and if the request is rejected, reasons should be provided in compliance with legislative requirements. The worker should be allowed to appeal. All requests, including appeals, must be decided and communicated to the worker within one month of the date of the request. If a worker has made a request and their contract ends during the one-month decision period, the employer must still handle the request in a reasonable manner and decide the request within that one-month period. Where the request is accepted, the employer must offer the worker a new contract within two weeks of acceptance.
The draft Acas Code is intended to support employers, temporary work agencies, hirers, workers and representatives to understand their rights and responsibilities regarding the new right to request a predictable working pattern. Although the Code will not be legally binding, it will be taken into account by courts and employment tribunals when considering relevant cases. Employees will be able to bring a claim if they believe that the request was not dealt with reasonably, or if they suffer a detriment or are dismissed for having requested a predictable working pattern.
The consultation will end on 17 January 2024. A link to the consultation can be found here.