The UK Government has announced that the Workers Bill (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill aka Workers Bill has received royal assent. This bill will allow zero-hour contracts and other atypical workers a lot more control over their working patterns as the bill urges workers to have conversations about their hours with employers. As of 2023, there are about 1.18 million people who work on zero-hour contracts in the UK.
There has been a growing recognition of the need to provide employees with more control. Hence, this legislation receiving royal assent is a step in the right direction.
Workers Can Now Request Predictable Working Patterns
One of the central tenets of the Workers Bill is the right for employees to request predictable working patterns from their employers. This marks a significant shift in the balance of power between employers and workers, as it allows employees to have a say in how their work hours are structured.
Under this new Workers Bill, workers have the right to formally request specific working patterns that suit their individual needs. These requests can include fixed hours, flexible scheduling, or other arrangements that align with their personal circumstances. While employers are not obligated to grant every request, they are required to consider and respond to these requests in a reasonable manner.
Business and Trade Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, in the online press release, says “Although zero-hours contracts can often suit workers who want to work flexibly and employers whose needs vary, it is unfair for anyone to have to put their lives on hold to make themselves available for shifts that may never actually come – this Act helps to end the guessing game.”
ACAS Chief Executive, Susan Clews, says, “With the passing of the new Act, many workers will have the right to request more predictability around their working pattern should they wish to. This will help workers and businesses understand the law and have constructive discussions around working arrangements that suit them both.”
How Will The Workers Bill Affect the UK Workforce?
Head of Public Policy at CIPD, Ben Willmott, says, “This new right will ensure that atypical workers can request a more predictable working pattern if they need more certainty, for example, over the hours they work each week.
It should also prompt more employers to ensure that the flexibility in non-standard employment arrangements works for both the business and workers wherever possible, boosting their efforts to recruit and retain staff.”
For employees, having more control over their work hours can lead to improved work-life balance, reduced stress, and better overall well-being. It can also enable them to better plan their personal lives, such as childcare and other commitments.
For employers, implementing predictable working patterns can lead to increased employee satisfaction, higher retention rates, and improved productivity. When employees have greater control over their schedules, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. Additionally, by accommodating the needs of their workforce, employers can attract and retain top talent.
It is crucial to note that once this bill comes into force, workers and employees will have this right as long as they have worked for a specific period. Currently, that period is said to be 26 weeks. Additionally, this act will only come into force about a year from now.