Protection for Workers on Zero Hour Contracts

Back in May 2015, a new law came into force that rendered exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts unenforceable. These clauses were used in situations where employers could not give workers guaranteed hours yet still prohibited them from undertaking other paid work. The aim of the change in the law was to give workers more freedom and also the ability to boost their income. However, at this point no sanctions were introduced for employers still choosing to take action against their workers as a result of them working for someone else.

However, on January 11 2016, new regulations came into force which changed this. The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations provide workers with a potential remedy should they run into trouble with their employer in relation to any other paid work that they do. The regulations now make any dismissal of a worker on a zero hour contract automatically unfair should the principal reason for that dismissal be that they were in breach of contract by also working for another employer. There will also be no qualifying period required to bring any such unfair dismissal claim. In addition to this it will now be unlawful to submit a worker to detriment as result of them breaching their contract by working for another employer.

Zero hour contracts allow workers the freedom to choose when they do and don’t work whilst giving employers the flexibility to fluctuate staffing levels depending on the needs of their business. They can be mutually beneficial for both parties when operated in a fair way and where the rights of both the worker and the employer are understood.

James Haley, Solicitor at Just Employment SolicitorsJames Haley, Solicitor & Director at Just Employment Ltd

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