Increased Protection for Workers on Zero Hours Contracts

In May 2015, the Government acted to ban exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts by way of the first commencement order made under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

Specifically, Section 153 of the Act inserted a new Section 27A into the Employment Rights Act 1996 that renders unenforceable any provision in a zero hours contract that prohibits a worker from doing work or performing services under another contract or under any other arrangement, or any provision that prohibits the worker from doing so without the employer's consent.

However, recognising that further measures were necessary to prevent employers sidestepping the ban, further legislation has now been introduced to afford further protection to those working under such contracts.

Under the Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015, which came into force on 11 January 2016, dismissal of a zero hours contract employee is automatically unfair if the principal reason for it is that they acted in breach of a contractual clause prohibiting them from working for another employer. Unlike most unfair dismissal claims, there is no qualifying period necessary before a claim can be brought.

The Regulations also make it unlawful to subject a zero hours contract worker to a detriment for breaching an exclusivity clause.

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