Zero hours contracts: Exclusivity clause redress for workers

Zero hours contracts have been the subject of much debate over the past year. Zero hours contracts are those that do not guarantee any set number of hours.  

Since the introduction of new regulations in May 2015, which made exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts unenforceable, there has been little redress for workers who have been treated unfairly or unfavourably as a result of ignoring exclusivity clauses and working for another employer.

New legislation that came into force in January 2016 gives zero hours workers protection if they are penalised in any way as a result of ignoring exclusivity clauses in place.

The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015 offers increased protection for zero hours workers:

  • It is unlawful for zero hours workers to be penalised or submitted to detriments should they work for another employer.

  • Zero hours workers are protected from being dismissed for breaching an exclusivity clause in a zero hours contract.

  • Workers are entitled to bring a claim for automatic unfair dismissal should they be dismissed for breaching an exclusivity clause. There is no need for the worker to have 2 years’ continuous service as is usually the case to bring an unfair dismissal claim.

  • Zero hours workers and employees are entitled to seek compensation for any detriment that occurred as a result of taking up other employment; such as withholding hours or being treated less favourably than colleagues.

This new legislation comes as part of the Government’s response to tackling avoidance of the ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts by employers.

Martin Bloom, Partner, Head of Employment Department