Ban on Exclusivity Clauses in Zero Hour Contracts
Exclusivity clauses prevent a worker from looking beyond his present employer for alternative work when zero work is available. However, following the Government’s consultation in relation to zero hour contracts, the Small Business Enterprise & Employment Bill proposes the following:-
- a ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts;
- a code of practice seeking fair use of zero hour contracts to be developed between Government, businesses and union representative by 31st December 2014;
- a consultation on how to prevent rogue employers from avoiding the ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, for example by offering one hour fixed contracts, and
- clear explanatory notes on zero hour contracts and workers’ rights.
As ever, interpretation and transparency are the key watchwords for the proposed legislation. Inevitably, the unique structure of the zero hour contract and clarification on the particular definitions must be carefully worded by the Government to avoid confusion with other forms of employment contract.
ACAS has reported some general concern amongst workers that looking for alternate work could simply result in the contract (zero hours) being terminated, therefore there will be a need to ensure protection for such employees and a clearer understanding of the rights and obligations, both for the employer and the employee.
Both the Scottish Government and the Labour Party have expressed criticism on the inadequacy of protection for zero hours contract workers. Whether real progress can be made between now and the next election, which is likely to be in May 2015, remains to be seen.