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Predictable Working Patterns - the ACAS Draft Code of Practice

By Heather McKinlay

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has recently launched a

consultation on a draft Code of Practice on managing requests for predictable working

patterns. The consultation has sparked considerable interest and raised important questions

about the future of work. The Act that the Code of Practice will work alongside - the Workers

(Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023, introduces a new statutory right for workers,

including agency workers, to request more predictable working patterns. This Act received

Royal Assent in September 2023 and is expected to come into force in September 2024.


Predictable working patterns refer to structured schedules that employees can anticipate and

rely upon, offering a degree of stability in their work lives. This includes set hours, clear

schedules, and advance notice of any changes. The concept seeks to address the

challenges posed by irregular or unpredictable working hours, which can impact individuals'

well-being, work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction. Making predictable working pattern

requests will broadly follow the same process as currently in place for flexible working

requests: they must be made in writing and can be refused on a number of grounds.


The Act currently lists six grounds for refusal, including any additional cost burden, a

negative impact on recruitment or other areas of the employer’s business, or there not being

sufficient work available during the times the worker has requested. It also outlines different

processes depending on who is making the request and who they are making it to (an

employee/worker to their employer or an agency worker to their agency or hirer).


The ACAS consultation aims to gather insights from various stakeholders, including

employees, employers, unions, and policymakers. It seeks to understand the diverse

perspectives surrounding predictable working patterns and the potential benefits and

challenges they present.


The draft Code also sets out some other examples of good practice such as:


● 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 where relevant, courts and employment tribunals

will take it into account.


For employees, predictable working patterns can provide better work-life balance, allowing

for improved planning of personal commitments and reduced stress associated with

uncertain schedules. It can also enhance job security and help with managing household

finances.


Employers, on the other hand, may find it challenging implementing and maintaining rigid

schedules due to operational demands or client needs. However, predictability can

contribute to employee retention, productivity, and overall job satisfaction, so overall

positively impacting the company and its workforce.


While the concept of predictable working patterns holds promise, its implementation may not

be straightforward. Certain industries, such as healthcare, hospitality, or retail, operate in

dynamic environments where flexibility is crucial. Balancing predictability with the need for

adaptability poses a significant challenge for these sectors.


Moving forward, its important to strike a balance that accommodates the needs of both

employers and employees. Strategies such as open dialogue between stakeholders, flexible

scheduling options, and using technology to enable predictability while ensuring operational

efficiency will be key.


As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of work, collaboration and a thoughtful

approach toward implementing predictable working patterns will pave the way for a more

equitable and sustainable future of work. While challenges exist, the potential benefits of

predictable working patterns cannot be understated in fostering healthier, more productive

work environments.


What are your thoughts on predictable working patterns? How do you believe they could

positively impact the workforce?


If you need any further support with or indeed any other HR matters then please do not

hesitate to get in touch with us here at Second Chapter.



About Heather McKinlay

Heather works as an HR Business Associate at Second Chapter where she supports mainly with recruitment, general HR administration and also social media postings. She has had a varied career so far spanning across retail, hospitality, marketing and communications, but always with people at the heart of it. Heather lives in Sheffield with her husband, daughter and rescue cat George.

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