Zero-hour contracts: exclusivity clauses finally banned!

Exclusivity clauses in zero-hour contracts have been the subject of much debate for some time, however as of 26 May 2015, exclusivity clauses have been banned.

Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary, has won the battle to prevent employers from locking zero-hour low paid staff into exclusive jobs. The results of his efforts were revealed, when the legislation came into force.

Zero-hour contracts, a topical subject given the recent election campaigns, are contracts in which the worker agrees to work conditionally on the employer making work available. The fact that there is no guarantee that work will be given to the worker, means that these contracts are generally heavily in favour of the employer.

It was consequently seen as an unfair and unreasonable hardship against workers that such contracts could include an exclusivity clause which would prevent casual staff from working for another employer.

In Vince Cable’s 2014 public consultation he stated that the Government’s aim was to achieve a market which is ‘flexible, effective and fair for both business and individuals’. The Government’s policy is to ‘give employers the confidence to hire and create new jobs, and to provide individuals with a framework that allows them to not only find work, but to find work that suits them and their individual circumstances’.

The announcement symbolises a small victory for workers, as from now on, any provision in a zero-hours contract which prohibits a worker from working under another contract or arrangement, or prohibits the worker from doing so without the employer’s consent, is unenforceable against the worker.

If you use zero-hour contracts and haven’t done so already, we would recommend that you carry out a review.
Erica Dennett