Zero hour contracts consultation

The Government has just published a consultation on tightening up the legislation that relates to the use of "zero hour contracts". Click here to download a copy of the consultation.

While zero-hour contracts are important for many tourism-related businesses where customer numbers can fluctuate significantly over short periods, the Government has determined that there are two major problems related to this type of contract that need to be reformed:

  1. Exclusivity Clauses – where businesses prevent employees from working for other businesses even if they have no work available
  2. Transparency  - Zero hour contracts are often opaque, leaving employees unclear on the terms, conditions and consequences of a zero hours contract. In addition, employers do not always fulfil or understand their responsibilities.

The Government is seeking views on the following options:

Exclusivity Clauses

  • Legislating to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in contracts that offer no guarantee of work;
  •  Government issuing guidance on the fair use of exclusivity clauses;
  • Encouraging the production of an employer-led Code of Practice on the fair use of exclusivity clauses, with an additional option to seek Government sponsorship of that Code; or
  • Rely on existing common law redress which enables individuals to challenge exclusivity clauses.

Transparency

  • Improving the content and accessibility of information, advice and guidance
  • Encouraging a broader, employer-led Code of Practice which covers the fair use of zero hours contracts generally
  • Whether and how Government could produce model clauses for zero hours contracts.

The consultation is open until 13 March 2014. Tony Millns. Chief Executive at English UK has been discussing this issue with Caroline Lucas MP, and will be providing comments in a submission to the Government.

 

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