In a landmark victory for the workforce of the United Kingdom, the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill has received Royal Assent. Backed by the Department for Business and Trade, the new law marks a significant milestone in employment rights and offers a glimmer of hope to millions of workers currently tied to atypical contracts, including zero-hours contracts.
An Empowering Step Forward
Introduced by Blackpool South MP Scott Benton and Baroness Anderson, the Bill aims to redress the balance of power between employers and employees in non-standard work arrangements. A cornerstone of the Act is that workers will now have the right to request a more predictable working pattern. This provision could prove instrumental in ending the “guessing game” many workers experience when waiting for their next shift or contract.
A Win for the Economy?
According to Business and Trade Minister Kevin Hollinrake, a more satisfied workforce leads to increased productivity and, subsequently, to a more robust economy. The minister said that although zero-hours contracts can often be suitable for those looking for flexible working, they shouldn’t impose unpredictability on employees. The Act, Hollinrake contends, will end that unpredictability and offer more equitable conditions.
The Act in Practice
Under the new legislation, if an employee’s existing work schedule lacks certainty—either in terms of hours or timing—they can now formally request a change. Employers must respond to such requests within one month. This provision is not just a boon for employees but can be a win-win situation for businesses as well. The introduction of predictability into work schedules can significantly improve job satisfaction, potentially leading to higher staff retention rates.
Acas and Industry Experts Weigh In
Acas plans to release a new Code of Practice to guide workers and businesses on making and understanding requests for more predictable working hours.
Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at CIPD, echoed Clews’ sentiments, suggesting that the Act should prompt employers to ensure flexibility in employment arrangements that are beneficial for both parties. He stated that this could help employers in their recruitment and retention efforts.
More Than Just Predictable Hours
The Predictable Terms and Conditions Act is a part of a package of progressive legislations backed by the government in recent months. Other areas addressed include neonatal care leave, redundancy protections for pregnant women, and rights for unpaid carers. These laws not only enhance the UK’s employment laws but also give businesses the confidence to invest in their workforce for the long-term economic growth.
The Workers Union Says…
“The Predictable Terms and Conditions Act of 2023 is a remarkable stride towards making the UK job market more equitable and humane. By providing a legal framework for millions of workers to request more predictable working conditions, the government and supporting organizations have brought forth a transformative change that positively affects the lives of the nation’s workforce.”