Zero hours contracts set for reform

Employees on zero hours contracts will be free to find work with more than one employer after the government moved to ban exclusivity clauses.

Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts prevent someone working for another employer, even when no work is guaranteed by the first employer. It is estimated that 125,000 workers on zero hours contracts are affected by exclusivity clauses.

Last December, the government launched a consultation on zero hours contracts that received more than 36,000 responses, of which 83 per cent were in favour of banning exclusivity clauses in zero hours contacts.

Announcing the move on 25 June, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Zero hours contracts have a place in today’s labour market. They offer valuable flexible working opportunities for students, older people and other people looking to top up their income and find work that suits their personal circumstances”.

“But it has become clear that some unscrupulous employers abuse the flexibility that these contracts offer to the detriment of their workers”.

“Following overwhelming evidence we are now banning the use of exclusivity in zero hours contracts and committing to increase the availability of information for employees on these contracts. We will also work with unions and business to develop a best practice code of conduct aimed at employers who wish to use zero hours contracts as part of their workforce.”

Dr Cable also announced that the government would consult further on how to prevent rogue employers evading the exclusivity ban, for example through offering one hour fixed contracts.

The ban on exclusivity clauses will form part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on 25 June.

The Palmers’ Employment Law team can provide expert advice to employees on all types of employment contract issues.Other areas where we can assist include advice on requests for flexible working, unfair dismissal, redundancy and all types of discrimination.

Fixed fee interviews are available but many people will find they have legal expenses cover under the terms of their household or car insurance policies to help them pursue a claim.For more information, please visit our website or contact Lara Murray, Karl Barnes or Charlotte Woolven-Brown.