Protection for workers on zero hours contracts now in force

clerk-18915_1280HMK Legal has previously reported on the banning of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts. An exclusivity clause prevents a worker from working for someone else. Such clauses are particularly problematic for zero hours workers who have no guaranteed hours of work. Whilst exclusivity clauses have been banned, undoubtedly some zero hours contracts will still contain them.

New regulations came into force on 11 January 2016 to provide workers on zero hours contracts with some proper protection if they breach an exclusivity clause in their contract.

The new protections are as follows:

  • the dismissal of a zero hours contract employee is automatically unfair, if the principal reason for dismissal is that s/he breached a contractual clause prohibiting her/him from working for another employer (i.e. an exclusivity clause). (Automatic unfair dismissal means that the employee does not have to prove that the dismissal is unfair in the usual way i.e. that the reason relied on does not apply and/or that the procedure followed was unfair.)
  • no qualifying period is required to bring such an unfair dismissal claim (i.e. the employee does not need two years’ service) ; and,
  • it is unlawful to submit a zero hours worker to a detriment if s/he works for another employer in breach of an exclusivity clause prohibiting her/him from doing so.

Only employees can bring a claim for unfair dismissal under these new provisions, but the unlawful detriment protection also applies to workers who do not have employee status. These new rights can be enforced in the Employment Tribunal.

If you need advice on any aspect of zero hours contracts, please contact Helen Kay on or .

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