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What’s next for zero hours contracts?


Legislation preventing employers from using exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts has now become law.

The legislation, which took effect on May 26, makes clauses in contracts of employment that prohibit a worker on zero hours contracts from carrying out work for another employer unenforceable.

Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts occur when an employer prevents casual staff working for another employer, even though they are not guaranteed any work.

The ban on the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts was included in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, and was first announced by former business secretary Vince Cable last year. It was one of the last pieces of legislation to be passed prior to the general election on 7 May 2015.

Various other employment measures have also been brought into force, including an increase in the maximum financial penalty for underpayment of the national minimum wage, to £20,000 per worker.

When the Coalition government published its response to the consultation on the exclusivity ban in March 2015 it confirmed that it would introduce secondary legislation to create a new protection from detrimental treatment for zero-hours contract workers who take jobs under other contracts, and to establish a minimum income level below which exclusivity clauses will be unenforceable.

Draft regulations were included in the response document. However, no such legislation has yet been brought into force and so there are, at present, no anti-avoidance measures attached to the new provisions. Therefore further provisions to tackle employers who circumvent the ban on exclusivity clauses are awaited.

With the Conservatives now governing alone, and no further mention of zero hours contracts in this week’s Queen’s Speech, it could be some time before any further detail emerges.

For more information on the law surrounding zero hours contracts, or any other employment law matter, contact the Employment team on 01772 258321

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