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CAS response to UK Government consultation: "Good Work Plan: one-sided flexibility - addressing unfair flexible working practices

CAS calls for better notice of shifts and shift cancellation

Citizens Advice Scotland is publishing its response to a UK Government "Good Work Plan" consultation. This consultation looked at unfair one-sided flexible working practices, where the employer expects the worker to be flexible and respond to shift changes with no or little notice, while not reciprocating. In this response, CAS provides examples of workers suffering detriment as a result of one-sided flexibility and makes recommendations to address this.

CAS welcomes the principles of a reasonable notice of work schedule, and compensation for shift cancellation or curtailment without reasonable notice. However, CAS would also promote other models, such as standby, unsocial hours, enhanced shift and callout payments, which can maintain employer and worker flexibility when exact staffing requirements are unknown, without recourse to specific notice periods or shift cancellation. Particularly, we support the expectation that workers should not experience retaliation from employers for turning down shifts offered with less than reasonable notice. Currently, this is a common feature in CAB cases.

In setting the length of time that would count as “reasonable notice” we would urge the UK Government to be ambitious and consider a notice period for mandatory work schedules of one month. At an absolute minimum, workers should be given a standard policy on reasonable notice at the start of their employment (or when these proposals are introduced), and that policy must be adhered to for the duration of the worker’s employment unless change is mutually agreed. Consistency should be a key principle in the development of these proposals. A reasonable notice of work schedule, the cut-off point at which compensation becomes available for cancelled or curtailed shifts, and notice expected from workers on availability (not including emergency or sickness/illhealth absences) should bear some relation to each other.

In all elements of the Good Work Plan, consideration must be given to which groups of workers will be affected by the proposals. If proposals are implemented in such a way as to only benefit those with ‘employee’ status, leaving some groups of workers with fewer rights, it is possible that rogue employers will increase their use of these less-protected workers to avoid compliance with new regulations. CAS would support any new regulations or legislation applying to ‘workers’ and ‘employees’, with careful monitoring of where “bogus self-employment” occurs.

You can read the full response by downloading the document below. 

Nina Ballantyne
Publication date
January 2020
Publication type