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Ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts introduced

Wed 27 May 2015

A change in the law restricting employers from using exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts has come into force.

According to Nick Boles, minister of state at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, these clauses had prevented people from boosting their income even when they had no guarantee of work.

As a result, he believes banning them will give working people more freedom to pursue other employment opportunities, as well as greater control over their income and working hours.

Mr Boles also stated that the change will bring financial security "one step closer for lots of families".

The banning of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts has been broadly welcomed by the business community.

For instance, CBI director for employment and skills Neil Carberry said it is a "proportionate response to tackling examples of poor practice".

However, he urged the government to consider the effects of any further regulation, warning that additional changes risk damaging the UK's flexible labour market.

Mr Carberry added that the flexible labour market has been an "important success story of our economy, benefitting employers and employees alike".

Sue Kelly, a partner in the Employment Department at Winckworth Sherwood, commented, “The ban on exclusivity clauses can very easily be worked around by employers able and willing to guarantee at least some hours’ work to workers, no matter how few.  Draft Regulations were produced before the election to tackle such avoidance measures, but these have yet to be approved by Parliament and implemented.”

Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser at the CIPD, has also backed the reforms, but called on the government to be mindful of rogue bosses who try to get round the new restrictions. 

He pointed out that enforcing the rules properly are just as important as introducing them, as legislation that "makes it categorical that it is an illegal offence needs to be matched by adequate enforcement".

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