Acas launches consultation on Code of Practice on handling requests for a predictable working pattern

Workplace expert Acas has today launched a consultation on its new draft statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for a predictable working pattern.

Recent years have seen changing patterns of work and an increase in concerns about the impact that an unpredictable working pattern can have on some workers' ability to generate a reliable income and to manage their work-life balance.

The government is introducing a new law which will give eligible workers a new statutory right to request a more predictable working pattern.

The legislation gives certain individuals, such as those on zero hours contracts and agency workers, the right to request more certainty around their working pattern.

Acas Chief Executive Susan Clews said:

"Acas's purpose is to make working life better for everyone in Britain. Our new draft Code will help businesses and workers understand the new law and provide good practice around requesting and handling requests for a predictable working pattern.

"Our Code outlines the steps that need to be taken to ensure that requests are handled in a reasonable manner. This includes weighing up the potential benefits and other impacts of the requested change for both sides.

"We are eager for feedback on the draft Code to ensure it is clear and workable for everyone that will impacted by the new law next year."

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act is expected to come into force in Autumn 2024. If a worker's existing working pattern lacks predictability in terms of the hours they work, the times they work or the length of their contract, they will be able to make a formal request to change their working pattern to make it more predictable. Once a worker has made their request, their business will be required to notify them of their decision within one month.

Acas's draft Code of Practice aims to ensure that requests for a more predictable working pattern are handled in a reasonable manner so that a worker's request is fully understood and considered. It sets out good practice on:

  • holding a meeting to discuss a request before making a decision
  • who should be allowed to accompany a worker at meetings to discuss a request
  • accepting a request where possible
  • only rejecting a request for certain legally allowed reasons and being clear about the reasons for rejecting it
  • offering an appeal where a request has been rejected

The consultation closes on 26 January 2024.

Read and respond to the Acas draft Code of Practice

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Background notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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. The Code will not be legally binding, but will be taken into account by courts and employment tribunals when considering relevant cases.