ACAS has today launched a consultation on a draft Code of Practice on handling requests for a predictable working pattern. The Code of Practice will sit alongside the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 which received Royal Assent in September 2023 and is expected to come into force in September 2024.

The Act introduces a new statutory right for workers (including agency workers) to request a more predictable working pattern.

The process for making a request will follow a broadly similar pattern to that currently in place for flexible working requests in that requests must be made in writing and may be refused on one of a series of specified grounds. There are currently six listed in the Act, including the burden of additional costs, detrimental impact on the recruitment of staff or other aspects of the employer’s business, or there being insufficient work during the periods the worker has asked to work.

There are different processes in place under the Act depending on whether the request is being made by an employee/worker to their employer, or by an agency worker to their agency or hirer. The consultation seeks specific input on how these different processes should best be reflected in the Code of Practice. The draft Code sets out further good practice principles including:

  • allowing workers to be accompanied at meetings to discuss a request;
  • that organisations should set out any additional information which is reasonable to help explain their decision; and
  • that organisations should allow an appeal where a request has been rejected

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

The consultation will close on 17 January 2024.