The government has launched a consultation on 'one sided flexibility' following recommendations made in the Taylor Review and by the Low Pay Commission.

The government estimates that around 1.7 million workers don't have guaranteed hours and are anxious that their hours can change unexpectedly.

The LPC has recommended that new laws should be introduced to protect vulnerable staff. These include rights for workers: 

To be given 'reasonable notice' of their work schedules

The consultation seeks views on how much notice is reasonable, whether it should apply across the board or if certain employers/sectors, such as the emergency services need more flexibility.

To be compensated if their shifts are cancelled or shortened without 'reasonable notice'

The suggestion is that if a worker's hours are cancelled with less than 'x' days’ notice (where 'x' is a time below which is deemed short-notice), the employer would be liable to pay compensation, irrespective of whether the hours are replaced.

The consultation suggests that compensation could be set at one of three levels:

  1. The value of the shift/hours in question 
  2. The worker’s appropriate NMW rate multiplied by the scheduled number of hours cancelled
  3.  A multiple of a worker’s appropriate NMW rate, e.g. three times the NMW

The government also asks whether compensation should only apply to those workers below a certain income level, close to or on the minimum wage, or to those on specific contract types - such as zero-hour contracts.

How can I respond?

The consultation ends on 11 October 2019 and if you engage casual staff, we strongly recommend that you make your views known as, if implemented, these changes may drive up your costs.