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Zero-Hours Contracts – Exclusivity Clauses

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Zero-hours contracts remain an area that engages much public debate… On one hand, zero-hours contracts can seem to be unfair on the workers, but on the other hand they can make perfect sense for both employers and their staff.

Why use zero-hour contracts?

For some employers zero-hours contracts work perfectly.  It allows them to appropriately staff their workforce to provide flexible staffing to cater for seasonal or fluctuating demand.   But it is not just a win for many employers.  Contrary to some comments, many employees enjoy the benefits of being engaged on one or more zero hours contracts as they don’t have to commit to working a minimum number of hours in any given period.  They can therefore be a win-win situation for everyone involved.

That being said, it is accepted that not all employers make use of zero hours contracts in a fair and equitable way…

What do recent legal changes mean?

Whilst the existence of zero-hours contracts remains a hotly debated topic, the government has finally actioned something, after all the hype…

From 26 May 2015 “exclusivity” clauses are banned from use in zero-hours contracts.

An exclusivity clause is a clause in a contract that prevents someone from either working for somebody else or that prevents them for working for someone else without the employer’s consent.

The Government’s thought process for banning exclusivity clauses in zero –hours contracts is that the existence of such a clause undermines the choice and flexibility that zero-hour contracts could otherwise bring; and in some instances can be an abusive practice.  In short it doesn’t facilitate a level playing field for employers and their staff.

What does this mean for me and other employers?

Quite simply exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts past and present will be unenforceable. Employers will no longer be allowed to rely on them, or enforce these clauses against their staff.

This might be a good time for employers to consider reviewing their zero-hours contracts to ensure that they do not contain any exclusivity clauses. Employers might also be mindful to review their internal policies and the guidance that they provide to their staff on the use of zero-hours contracts.

We will be discussing the above employment law changes to zero hour contracts and many other employment law updates at our next seminar at Burton on Trent on 9 June 2015. Please click here to book yourself a place at this event or simply for details of future events.


If you are concerned or still feel unsure about these proposed changes to employment law then please feel free to call the FBsupport team for a confidential chat.

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