[UK] Addressing Unfair Flexible Working Practices

The 2018 remit for the Low Pay Commission (LPC) included an additional set of tasks following the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices.  One of these was to look at issue of ‘one-sided flexibility’.  This is where an employer might have undue influence as to whether they “abuse” flexible working laws and possibly cancel shifts at short notice.  The flexibility is all with the employer rather than the worker which may lead to unpredictability, insecurity of income and a reluctance among some workers to assert basic employment rights. 

In its conclusion on the 17th of December 2018, the LPC said that the government should consider measures that introduce two-sided flexibility so that it was not only the employer who benefited from flexible working arrangements.

On the 19th of July 2019, issued a press release on this, quoting proposed reforms.  At the same time, the government published a consultation on measures that seek to address one-sided flexibility as follows:

  • Providing a right to reasonable notice of working hours
  • Providing workers with compensation for shifts cancelled without reasonable notice


Global Payroll Association Comment

This consultation rightly seeks to address the issue that that is carried out by a “minority of employers”.  One-sided flexibility does pose excessive risks to workers with few corresponding benefits.

The consultation asks 27 questions all for the purpose of gathering more information about practices and developing a set of proposals for future legislation.  Introducing a statutory right for “reasonable” notice of working hours and compensation for shifts cancelled should be of interest to employers, particularly HR and payroll professionals.

On the 1st of August 2019 an impact assessment was published to accompany the consultation.  At 41 pages long, this suggests significant procedural and cost implications for employers.  The consultation closes on the 11th of October and any resulting legislation will apply in England, Scotland and Wales.  We think that this is one to look out for and urge readers to respond to some or all of the questions.  This is particularly true of employers (and workers) who have contracts with variable hours.