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Tag Archive

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.

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A ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts

During the election each major party had some pledge in respect of ‘zero hour contracts’, and it seemed that there was a general consensus that these types of contracts had to be scrutinised and legislative changes needed to be made.

The long awaited ban on exclusivity clauses finally came into force on 26 May 2015. This will mean the employers will no longer be able to restrict an employee’s ability to work for a competitor, in circumstances where their contract does not guarantee work i.e. is a “zero hour contract”

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Zero Hour Uncertainty

In past issues we have considered the legal-commercial rationale for implementing ‘zero hours’ contracts for part or all of a workforce – those contracts where there is no obligation either for the employer to provide work, nor for the worker to accept the same.

A point not previously touched upon and recently brought to the fore via case law, is the concept of an employment relationship considered by the employer to be zero hours, although not expressly labelled as such and that over time ‘crystallises’ into something much more substantial in terms of the rights capable of being asserted by the worker.

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