Zero-hours contract restrictions

27th May 2015

New restrictions came into force yesterday, which render exclusivity clauses in zero-hour contracts unenforceable. Exclusivity clauses are provisions that limit a worker's ability to work or provide services under another contract or arrangement to another organisation, without the employer's consent. These types of clauses have long been criticised for being onerous and restrictive on workers who have non-guaranteed working hours and pay.

The Government may make further provisions in due course to prevent zero-hour contract workers from suffering a detriment where they take on jobs from other contracts. The Government is keen to be seen to be regulating the use of zero-hour contracts and so the change may signify the start of increased scrutiny in this area. Workers' groups will welcome this change because, at present, many zero-hours workers have limited protection under employment law. Workers will also have more security about taking on multiple zero-hour contracts simultaneously.  

Various other employment measures have also been brought into force by the Government, including an increase in the maximum financial penalty for underpayment of the national minimum wage to £20,000 per worker.

For employers who use zero-hour contracts, it is recommended that the contracts are reviewed and particularly the clauses that relate to exclusivity. It is also important to ensure that zero hour contract workers are engaged correctly and that adequate protection is in place for the Company whilst retaining flexibility in the engagement.

For more information on zero hours contracts please contact Simon Bond, Associate, Higgs & Sons.


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