The government has introduced a new statutory right for workers to request more predictable working patterns, which is expected to come into force in September 2024.
The right will apply to workers whose existing working patterns lack certainty in the hours or times that they work; workers on fixed-term contracts of 12 months or less; and agency workers. There is a qualifying period of 26 weeks’ service.
The process by which new right will work is similar to the right to request flexible work except that it has the opposite effect by aiming to provide those with variable hours with more certainty rather than affording flexibility to those who already have fixed hours.
As with the flexible work requests, the employer is required to follow a specific process before communicating a decision, which must be based upon a prescribed list of reasons. The onus seems to be on the process itself rather than on the decision taken, although employers are required to deal with any requests in a “reasonable manner” and to notify the worker of their decision within one month.
ACAS will be producing a draft Code of Practice for consultation and we will update you as soon as further guidance becomes available.