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Zero Hour Contracts – Government Consultation

30th January, 2014

We have previously reported on the increasing use of zero-hour contracts and the many concerns raised in relation to the purported lack of fairness to employees on such contracts. The Government has therefore now published a consultation on the use of zero-hour contracts.

Although it was expected by some, the Government has not proposed an outright ban on the contracts but has focussed more towards options such as banning exclusivity clauses contained in some zero-hour contracts. An exclusivity clause prevents the employee from working for additional employers even though they have no guarantee of work through their initial contract.

The Government says that it remains open to alternative proposals in the consultation which will run until March 2014.

The Government further invites suggestions on the proposals of issuing guidance on the use of exclusivity clauses, implementing an employer-led Code of Practice on the fair use of exclusivity clauses and relying on common law to enable individuals to challenge exclusivity clauses which are unfair.

The initial consultation has also found that many people, including those currently on zero-hour contracts, are unaware of their employment rights or the consequences of the contract. The Government therefore welcomes views on ways to improve the information available to individuals, the production of model clauses for zero-hour contracts and the implementation of a general Code of Practice to provide guidance on the use of zero-hour contracts.

We will await the Government response to the consultation.

For further information and advice on the use of zero-hour contracts, please contact Claire Brook on 01244 405575 or send an email to [email protected].

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