Zero-Hours Contracts

For several months various government ministers have been claiming to have ‘banned’ the use of exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts. In fact, the legislation to make such clauses unenforceable against a worker only came into effect on 26th May 2015. Exclusivity clauses are designed to prevent a worker from working for any other employer during the currency of the contract. Whilst these are commonplace and not considered controversial in many contracts of employment, it was widely considered that they are unreasonable in the context of zero-hours contracts.

A zero-hours contract is traditionally used for casual working as it does not guarantee the worker any work and a worker is only paid for work actually carried out. Zero-hours contracts have attracted substantial negative publicity, particularly in the recent General Election campaign. However, they do provide much needed flexibility for both employers and employees. These contacts have been commonly, but by no means exclusively, used by employers in the care, retail and hospitality sectors, where many employers expect workers to be available for work when or if they are asked to work.

The legislative change means that employers cannot now lawfully prohibit workers on zero-hours contracts from doing work or performing services under another contract or under any other arrangement, or lawfully prohibit workers from doing so without an employer’s consent. However, at present the new legislation lacks any real teeth in terms of enforcement provisions and does not deal with anti-avoidance measures, such as offering one hour contracts. However, the legislation does create the power for the government to implement further provisions in relation to zero hour contracts and so it remains to be seen whether or not any measures will be brought in to effectively police the new restriction.

Although exclusivity clauses are now unenforceable against workers and we would recommend that contracts are reviewed and redrafted, the inclusion of an exclusivity clause will not alter the enforceability of the rest of the contract, which will be unaffected by the legislative change.

If you have any queries with regard to the above, or any specific questions with regard to a particular contract, please get in touch on 01908 533255 or [email protected]


Published: 06.01.15 - Posted In: Latest News