Jackie Le Poidevin, Editor-in-Chief, HR Adviser


Discover Your New Duty to Consider Requests for a More Predictable Working Pattern

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 has now been given Royal Assent. This gives certain types of workers the right to request a more predictable working pattern. Here we look at the key points you need to be aware of.

Are these Changes Already in Force?
No. The provisions will only take effect after separate regulations have been issued setting out further details. The changes aren’t expected to come into force until September 2024. However, it’s important to understand and plan for the reforms.

What’s Changing?

These are the main features of the Act:

  • It gives employees and workers the right to request a more predictable working pattern if the number of hours or the days or times they work is uncertain – for example, if they’re on a zero-hours contract or work irregular shifts.
  • Anyone on a fixed-term contract of less than 12 months will be able to ask for this to be made longer or permanent.
  • As with flexible working, this is only a right to request – not automatically to receive – a different working pattern. You’ll be able to refuse a request on various grounds (see below).
  • This won’t be a day 1 right (whereas the right to request flexible working will be once those reforms take effect). The Government has indicated that workers will need 26 weeks’ service, which won’t have to be continuous, to make a request, though we’re waiting for the regulations to confirm this.
  • Individuals will be able to make two requests in any rolling 12-month period (plus they’ll soon be entitled to make two flexible working requests too).
  • Agency workers will also be able to make a request for greater predictability – either to their agency or the hirer.

When Can We Refuse a Request?

You’ll be able to turn down an application on the following grounds, which are similar to those set out in the flexible working regime:

  • Excessive cost.
  • A detrimental effect on your ability to meet customer demand.
  • A detrimental impact on recruitment.
  • A detrimental impact on other aspects of your business.
  • Insufficient work during the periods the worker proposes to work.
  • Planned structural changes.

You must respond within 1 month of receiving the request (including dealing with any appeal against your decision).

What Could Happen if We Get this Wrong?

If you handle the request unreasonably or reject the application for an improper reason, the individual will be able to bring an employment tribunal claim. Compensation is likely to be limited to 8 weeks’ pay subject to the statutory cap (currently £643 a week).

If you treat someone unfairly because of their request, they will be able to claim unlawful detriment. Individuals with ‘employee’ status will also have the right to claim automatic unfair dismissal.

In addition, it’s possible individuals might claim discrimination – for example, if you can’t justify turning down a working mother’s request for more predictable shifts.

What Should We Do Now?

Acas will be preparing a new statutory Code of Practice on dealing with such requests and a public consultation on this is expected this autumn. So look out for this as it will help to clarify your responsibilities. For example, it’s likely you’ll be expected to consult the worker if you’re intending to turn down their request. We’ll let you know when the consultation goes live.


    Emma Lampka, Editorial Board Member, Health & Safety Adviser and Risk Assessment & Compliance


    Get Ready for New Fire Safety Guidance on 1 October 2023

    Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 makes a number of amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) to improve fire safety in all buildings regulated by the FSO. These improvements form Phase 3 of the Home Office’s fire safety reform programme, building on Phase 1 (the Fire Safety Act 2021) and Phase 2 (the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022). We outline the aims of the new regulations and how to carry out your fire risk assessment.

    The Objectives of the Regulations

    The new regulations aim to:

    • Improve co-operation and co-ordination between Responsible Persons (RPs).
    • Increase the requirements for the recording and sharing of fire safety information.
    • Make it easier for enforcement authorities to take action against non-compliance.
    • Ensure residents have access to comprehensive information about fire safety in their building.

    In addition, three new fire safety guides on small non-domestic premises, small blocks of flats and small sleeping accommodation have been published to replace the old short guide to making your premises safe from fire. An updated fire risk assessment checklist has also been published to support RPs in understanding and meeting the new requirements.

    Although there is currently no requirement for RPs to ensure that anyone they appoint to do a fire risk assessment is competent, the Government is working closely with the fire safety industry to develop a robust roll-out plan. The aim is to provide more information on this in the coming months. Therefore, in the meantime ensure you carry out a fire risk assessment in accordance with the Government guidance and you must keep a written record of your fire risk assessment if your business has 5 or more people.

    Carrying Out Your Risk Assessment

    1. Identify the fire hazards within your business: identify any ignition sourcesg. cooking, hot works or space heaters; any fuel sources such as paper, card, plastics, highly flammable liquids or chemicals.
    2. Identify the people at risk: identify your workforce, including anyone who would require specific personal requirements; identify any contractors or visitors who may come to your business.
    3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks: remove ignition sources where possible and reduce the amount of fuel available to feed a fire. Establish how fires are detected and what the warning systems are in your business. Determine that there are adequate numbers of emergency routes and exits and that they are they clear. Identify if you have the right number and types of fire extinguisher for your potential risks and that they are regularly serviced.
    4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training: ensure you have a General Emergency Evacuation Plan (GEEP) and, where needed, a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) for those who need additional specific requirements to safely exit the building. Provide clear information to employees and other people on the premises. Conduct staff fire safety training, including ensuring that a full fire evacuation drill is conducted at least annually.

    Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly: your risk assessment will determine the frequency of the review, however, a review every year will ensure that it is up to date.


    Sarah Bradford, Editor-in-Chief, Pay & Benefits Adviser

    Reminder: Your PAYE Settlement Agreement Payment is Due Soon

    A PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA) is an arrangement with HMRC that lets you pay the tax and associated National Insurance on a range of benefit provided to your employees on their behalf. It can be useful to preserve the goodwill nature of a benefit. This is a reminder that your PSA payments are due soon and we show you how to do it.

    If you have PAYE settlement agreement in place for 2022/23, you will soon need to pay the tax and Class 1B National Insurance due under the agreement. You need to do this by 22 October if you make your payment electronically. As 22 October falls on a Sunday, in reality this year, it means your payment should clear HMRC’s account by Friday 20 October 2023. If you want to make your payment by cheque, you will need to ensure that it reaches HMRC by the earlier date of 19 October 2023.

    Calculating what You Owe

    Before you can pay your PSA, you need to calculate what you owe. Under a PSA, you pay tax on the benefit as grossed up at that the marginal rates of tax applicable to the employees who received the benefits. You also pay Class 1B National Insurance in place of the Class 1 or Class 1A National Insurance liability that would otherwise arise. Class 1B National Insurance is payable on both the value of the benefits included in the agreement and also on the tax due under the agreement. For 2022/23, the Class 1B percentage is 14.53%.

    You will need to submit your calculation to HMRC. This should be done on form PSA1. This can be sent digitally, using with email authentication or your Government Gateway credentials. The calculation should be submitted in advance of the payment deadline.

    HMRC produce guidance on PSA calculations (Help with PAYE Settlement Agreement calculations – GfC1). The guidance is available on the website at:

    It is a worthwhile read as it explains what you need to do and also highlights common errors to avoid.

    Paying an Agreement

    Once HMRC have processed your calculation, they will send you a payslip confirming the amount that is due. This will include a ‘charge reference’ which should be quoted when making your payment.

    If you have not received your payslip by the time that you need to make the payment in order to ensure that it is not late, you should instead use the reference number quoted in the covering letter when you first formalised your enduring PSA. This is the SAFE reference. If you are unable to find the reference, you can contact the HMRC office which formalised your agreement to obtain the reference to use for your payment.

    It’s important that the correct reference is used – you should not use your PAYE Accounts Office reference or your PAYE reference as this may result in the payment not being allocated correctly.

    It is important that the payment is made on time as interest may be charged if the payments is made late.


    You should keep records relating to your PSA calculation for at least 3 years from the end of the tax year to which they relate.