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Important news on Zero Hours Contracts

January 2016

Zero Hours Contracts have come in for a lot of criticism over the last few years.  Some is justified and some is unjustified.  The TUC, themselves, have stopped short of outright condemnation as clearly some workers prefer the flexibility that Zero Hours Contracts afford.

One universal criticism, however, was that it was grossly unfair for an employer to demand loyalty from an employee who was on a Zero Hours Contract.  It was not uncommon for a Zero Hours Contracts to have a provision whereby employees were unable to work for anyone else whilst they were under restriction in a Zero Hours Contract with their employer. Conversely of course the employer was under no obligation to offer work to them.

This mischief has now been remedied as today The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015 come into force.

As of today any dismissal of an employee on a Zero Hours Contract is automatically unfair if the principal reason is that s/he breached a contractual clause which prohibited him/her from working for another employer.

As the dismissal would be automatically unfair there is no qualifying period of 2 years as would be the case in a normal unfair dismissal claim.  As most employees on Zero Hours Contracts are casual and short term then this clearly makes sense.

It is also important to note that short of dismissal it is also unlawful to submit a Zero Hour worker to any detriment if they work for another employer in breach of a clause prohibiting them from doing so.

All in all this is certainly a good move which will make the Zero Hours Contract a much more palatable option for employees seeking flexibility with the minimum of commitment. If as an employer you employ people on Zero Hours Contracts then I would advise you review them immediately.

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