There has been significant media coverage on the widespread use of zero hours contracts and their apparent abuse by employers.  Zero hours contracts give employers a high degree of flexibility as they do not guarantee workers a minimum number of working hours.  In some cases however, employers were including “exclusivity clauses” in their zero hours contracts which prohibit the worker from working under another contract or arrangement (or prohibit the worker from doing so without the employer’s consent).

Since 26 May 2015, exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts have been unenforceable but there was little redress for workers where a contract still contained such a clause save that it was unenforceable against them.  This has now been remedied.  New rules came into force on 11 January 2016 (under The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015) which give those working under zero hours contracts greater protection.

Under the new regulations, the dismissal of a zero hour employee is automatically unfair if the reason or principal reason is that the employee failed to comply with an exclusivity clause  and there is no minimum period of service before such a claim can be brought. In addition, zero hours employees have the right not to be subjected to a detriment for failing to comply with an exclusivity clause.

The new regulations symbolise a small victory for zero hours workers.  However, some commentators have suggested that the new regulations will simply mean that businesses think twice before using zero hours contracts and will instead use “Minimum Hour” style arrangements (which fall outside the scope of the new regulations).

If you would like further advice on zero hour contracts or any employment issue, please contact Linky Trott – Partner or any member of the Edwin Coe Employment Team.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

Edwin Coe LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership, registered in England & Wales (No.OC326366). The Firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A list of members of the LLP is available for inspection at our registered office address: 2 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, London, WC2A 3TH. “Partner” denotes a member of the LLP or an employee or consultant with the equivalent standing.

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