ACAS has launched a public consultation on its draft code of practice for responding to requests for a predictable work schedule.

The draft statutory code outlines the procedures that employers must follow when responding to requests for more consistent working schedules or hours. These procedures include the practical considerations employers should take into account when handling such requests, how they must communicate their decision, and how to handle any appeals.

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions Act 2023) received Royal Assent in September 2023, and is expected to come into force in Autumn 2024. The new law give all workers on zero-hours or temporary contracts the right to make a formal request for a more stable working pattern.

The new ACAS Code of Practice seeks to guarantee that employers respond to these requests in a fair and reasonable way, taking into account the worker’s perspective.

It currently sets out guidance including:

  • Holding meetings to consider requests prior to making a decision
  • Who should be permitted to attend meetings with a worker to consider a request
  • Granting a request when it is feasible
  • Rejecting a request for only those legally permissible reasons and providing a clear explanation for the rejection
  • Offering an appeals process in the event that a request is denied.

The period of consultation for comments on the code is ends on 17 January 2024.

Announcing the new consultation, ACAS chief executive Susan Clews commented: “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.”

As Editor of Lawble, Gill helps business and individuals become better informed about their legal rights. Gill is a content specialist in the fields of law, tax and human resources.