Zero hours contracts – closing the loopholes

The government recently published its response to the latest consultation on zero hours contracts.

Last year, the government proposed to ban exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, which prevent workers from working for other employers in order to increase their hours of work. There was, however, concern that it would be fairly easy to get around the ban – for example, by putting workers on a one hour contract rather than a zero hours contract to retain exclusivity, or by restricting work opportunities for workers who had taken up work elsewhere.

The purpose of the latest consultation was therefore to seek views on how to tackle ways in which employers could circumvent a ban on exclusivity clauses.

In its response to the consultation, the government is proposing to extend the exclusivity ban to include low-income contracts as well as zero-hours contracts. To avoid including highly paid workers who choose only to work a few hours per week, jobs paying £20 per hour or more would be exempt from the exclusivity ban. In addition, the government proposes to give any worker under a zero-hours contract (or low income contract) whose employer subjects them to a detriment because they have worked for another employer the right to bring a detriment claim in an employment tribunal.

Draft regulations have been produced but it remains to be seen when or whether these proposals will become law, especially as Parliament has been dissolved pending the general election.

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