Hello again and welcome back to our case of the week. Last week we had our monthly newsletter for September 2023, where we looked at the sexual assault allegations against Russell Brand, sick days being the highest they’ve been for a decade and Sheffield City Council potentially facing thousands of equal pay claims. Those that missed it can find it here. This week we’re looking at The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 and Tesco becoming the first supermarket to give paid leave for kinship carers.
Firstly, The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 will introduce a statutory right for workers to request a more predictable working pattern, which is expected to come into force in September 2024.
The qualifying period is likely to be twenty-six weeks service, although not necessarily continuous service. It will apply to workers who have a working pattern that lacks certainty as to the hours or times they work and includes workers on fixed-term contracts of 12 months or less, who can request a longer fixed-term. There is also some provision for agency workers who can make their request to the agency, or directly to the hirer, but there are certain qualifying conditions.
The application must specify what change the worker is applying for and the date they wish it to take effect. The request could relate to days or hours of work, or a certain period of engagement, but only a maximum of two applications can be made in any twelve-month period.
Employers must deal with the application in a reasonable manner and notify the worker of the decision within one month.
So far so good for the worker…
However, the employer has several grounds they can rely on to reject the application:
1. The burden of additional costs.
2. The detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand.
3. The detrimental impact on the recruitment of staff.
4. The detrimental impact on other aspects of the employer’s business.
5. Insufficiency of work during the periods the worker proposes to work.
6. Planned structural changes.
7. Such other grounds as the Secretary of State may specify by regulations.
If the employer grants the request, the new contract must reflect the change in work pattern that the worker applied for and cannot offer terms and conditions that are less favourable than those at the time the request was made.
Ahead of this legislation that is due to come into force next year, Tesco recently granted their staff the right to request flexible working from their first day in the job! This change is one amongst a range of family-friendly policies they are introducing over the next few years.
Another big change from Tesco is their kinship leave, which offers twenty-six weeks leave on full pay for its employees who have been granted a Special Guardianship Order (‘SGO’) from a family court. An SGO allows a child to be brought up by someone other than the child’s parents, such as grandparents, relatives, or family friends. Tesco’s kinship leave will give its staff equal rights to those colleagues who adopt and makes Tesco the first supermarket to offer such leave.
Other policies Tesco announced are:
- Maternity Leave and adoption leave to rise from 14 weeks, to 26 weeks full pay.
- Up to 12 weeks paid neonatal leave.
- An extension of fertility leave to partners as well as birth mothers of up to five days paid leave per treatment cycle.
- Two weeks paid leave for the loss of a baby up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The charity Kinship estimates there are 152,000 children in the U.K. growing up in kinship care and they estimate that hundreds of kinship carers work for Tesco.
The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 is a favourable piece of legislation for workers who are seeking a more predictable working pattern but have had to get used to the unpredictability that comes with the ‘worker’ status. Whether this legislation will offer that in practice is a different question, as employers will have a broad range of grounds to rely on to refuse such requests.
Another route to offering predictability and security is through policies. This is the direction Tesco seem to be taking to achieve a healthy work-life balance for its staff.
If you or someone you know are dealing with any of the issues mentioned above, please contact a member of our team who will be able to assist.