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Proposed new rights for casual workers

There have been indications in the past that the government is keen to address the problem of casual workers having little control over when they work, being required to work at short-notice and not knowing when or whether they will be offered work.  One of the recommendations of the 2017 Taylor review was that this be addressed and, in 2019, the government consulted on proposals recommended by the Low Pay Commission, including the introduction of a right to request a more predictable contract.  However, the government has not yet published its response.

It is becoming increasingly common for matters raised previously to be supported by the government by way of private members’ bills and indeed the government has commented that it is considering alternative options for delivering its manifesto commitments in this manner.  The last such bill to have been sponsored by an MP and supported by the government is the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill (‘the Bill’) which passed its second reading on 3 February 2023.

What will happen if the Bill is passed?

If passed, the Bill will give workers and agency workers the right to request a predictable work pattern in the following circumstances:

  • There is a lack of predictability as regards any part of their work pattern.
  • The change relates to their work pattern.
  • Their purpose in applying for the change is to get a more predictable work pattern.

The worker can ask to fix the minimum number of hours they work each week, the days they work and/or the period they are contracted to work.  It is expected that the worker must have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks to make a request and that they will be able to make two applications in a 12-month period.

Employers are expected to be able to reject applications on certain grounds.

What protection will a worker have if they make a request?

If a worker makes a request, they will be protected in the following ways:

  • The right not to suffer a detriment short of dismissal for making an application under the procedure or for bringing proceedings to enforce the statutory right to request a predictable work pattern.
  • It would be automatically unfair for an employer to dismiss an employee for making an application under the statutory procedure or for bringing proceedings to enforce the statutory right.

The Bill has been sent to a Public Bill Committee and no date has yet been set for when the Public Bill Committee with meet to discuss the Bill further.  We will keep you updated as to the Bill’s progress.

If you require any further information in relation to the above, please contact a member of the Employment and HR Team.



Disclaimer: this post has been produced for Napthens’ website blog and does not constitute legal advice.

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