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Posted 1 June 2015
by Stephen Jennings

Zero hours contracts & exclusivity clauses – the end of time

The Government has announced that the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts are now banned and will be rendered unenforceable, under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015. This provision came into force on 26 May 2015.

An exclusivity clause is one where the employer restricts a worker under a zero hours contract from working for anyone else.

For the purposes of this exclusivity ban, a zero hours contract is defined as:

“A contract of employment or other worker’s contract under which (a) the undertaking to do or perform work or services is an undertaking to do so conditionally on the employer making work or services available to the worker, and (b) there is no certainty that any such work or services will be made available to the worker.”

The definition isn’t completely clear – e.g. as to whether only agreements that impose an obligation on the worker to work when required are included. Employers could of course seek to circumvent the ban by guaranteeing a small number of hours, with the balance to be worked as required.

This exclusivity ban will apply to existing zero hours contracts as well as those which are entered into after 26th May 2015. However, it will only be the exclusivity clause that will be void and the remainder of existing zero hours contracts will still be valid.

A second provision in the Act, which also came into force on 26 May 2015, provides the Government with wide-ranging powers to make further provisions in relation to zero hours contracts in the future – watch this space!


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About the author

Stephen Jennings

Partner and Solicitor

Partner in the litigation department specialising in employment law, he is the relationship manager for many of the firm's employment clients