How will changes to variable hours law affect employers?

Published on October 2, 2019 by Camille Brouard
    Employment · Holidays
variable hours legislation

As part of their Good Work Plan review, the UK government will be assessing variable hours legislation to address ‘one-sided flexibility’ in the workplace. This will likely have an impact on how employers manage variable hours workers in future.

What is one-sided flexibility?

The Low Pay Commission (LPC), who advise the government on minimum wage workers, published proposals on December 17th, 2018 to address the possibility of employers misusing flexible working arrangements.

In some cases, they found that employers have provided unpredictable working hours, fuelling income insecurity. For instance, research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 17% of employers with flexible low-paid workers gave no more than one day’s notice before a shift.

These situations are labelled as ‘one-sided flexibility’ because the flexible nature of the contract tends to benefit the employer but not the worker. This contrasts with two-way flexibility, where both parties benefit from a flexible working agreement.

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The LPC’s recommendations for variable hours legislation

Within their proposal, the LPC (an independent body of employers, trade unions and experts) recommended:

  1. The right to switch to a contract which reflects a worker’s normal hours (providing recognition of their normal hours). This would strengthen legislation on the right to request a more stable contract.
  2. The right to reasonable notice of their work schedule in advance of a person’s working hours.
  3. Compensation for shifts that employers cancel without reasonable notice.
  4. Written information of the above that is clear and accessible for workers.

How the consultation may affect atypical working

The government consultation seeks views on the proposals of the LPC and variable hours legislation. This will close on October 11th, 2019. Employers with variable hours workers should remain aware of any developments that develop from this consultation.

Employers can also submit their views on what constitutes a reasonable period of notice for work schedules and shift cancellations. There is also the opportunity to comment on what constitutes a fair amount of compensation for cancelled shifts.

Resources for atypical working

There are already great resources out there to help employers achieve balance when it comes to flexible and atypical working. The CIPD has published an atypical working guide in response to the one-sided flexibility report. This guide provides practical tips on how to manage atypical workers responsibly and fairly.

Acas have also published a paper on Everyday challenges for an atypical workforce, which addresses and discusses some of the issues organisations with atypical workers tend to face.

Tracking variable hours holiday entitlement

Variable hours legislation and holiday entitlement

On top of tracking the hours that variable hours staff have worked within a given period, it can be even trickier to accurately calculate their holiday entitlement. We’ve written a comprehensive guide to variable hours workers and holiday entitlement for this purpose; plus, it’s even easier to calculate variable hours holiday entitlements with myhrtoolkit’s holiday management software.

If you’d like to find out more about how myhrtoolkit can help you with automatic holiday entitlement calculations for variable hours workers, you can get in touch.

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Written by Camille Brouard

Camille is a Senior Marketing Executive for myhrtoolkit who writes on topics including HR technology, workplace culture, leave management, diversity, and mental health at work.

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