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Protection for workers on Zero Hour Contracts

Workers under a zero hour contract are not guaranteed working hours yet some employers have used exclusivity clauses to prevent those engaged under such an agreement from working for another organisation, or to exclude workers from doing so without the employer’s consent. In May 2015 these exclusivity clauses were declared unlawful however there were no penalties associated with the ban and workers had no power to enforce it.

The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hour Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015 which came into force on 11 January 2016 filled that gap in the law and provides that:

·         any dismissal of a zero hour contract employee is automatically unfair, if the principal reason is that s/he breached a contractual clause prohibiting him/her from working for another employer;

·         no qualifying period is required to bring such an unfair dismissal claim and

·         it is also unlawful to submit a zero hour worker (note: worker not employee) to detriments if they work for another employer in breach of a clause prohibiting them from doing so.

Thus, employers should refrain from punishing workers engaged under zero hours contracts who work elsewhere, for example by failing to offer them further work. Employers, can of course continue to use ‘zero hour contracts’ but with caution as the legislation is quite clear; they cannot be used to avoid employees gaining employment rights nor can they unfairly restrict a workers right to earn a sustainable living salary.

If you are currently an employer using ‘zero hour contracts’ and want a free legal audit of the written document please do not hesitate to contact me on 0113 350 4030 or samira.cakali@scesolicitors.co.uk.


Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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