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An exclusive deal...not any more!

View profile for Howard Robson
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Zero hours contracts have been in the spotlight for several years, and in the run up to the General Election they became a political ‘hot potato’!  One area regularly under scrutiny was that of exclusivity clauses.  These prevent a worker on a zero hour’s contract from working for another company.  These clauses are now consigned to history, and as of 26th May 2015 the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act outlaws exclusivity clauses in a zero hour’s contract.

“The concept of a zero hour’s contract has promising economic foundations, but it’s the uncertainty associated with them that can cause real problems,” explains Howard Robson, Employment Partner.  “The sectors most likely to be affected by the ban include retail, hospitality, tourism and health care; these are very much low margin and demand driven industries, and zero hour’s contracts can offer great flexibility to the employer and employee.  With this flexibility however also comes the danger that employers take advantage of an employee on a zero hour’s contract.  They are not obligated to provide them with work.  The ban on exclusivity clauses tackles one area of concern as it allows the employee to obtain employment elsewhere whilst retaining the flexibility and therefore have more financial security.

“It’s common practice that employers with workers on zero hour’s contracts will cancel a workers shift at short notice, sometimes when they have already taken the time to travel in,” continues Howard.  “Currently there is no provision for compensation if this occurs and this is the next issue ministers may wish to address to improve zero hour’s contracts for employees.”

Following the ban on exclusivity clauses, workers on a zero hour’s contract are advised to be vigilant.  “There will always be employers who think they are above the law,” concludes Howard.  “If you’re about to sign a zero hour’s contract or you’re already committed to this type of employment contract then your employer should have asked you to sign a new contract with the clause removed.  If they have not done so, then you may wish to raise this with them to avoid any later dispute.”

For any advice on zero hour’s contracts whether you’re an employee or an employer you can contact Howard or the other members of the Employment Team on 02380 717717 or visit their section of the website here.


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.