Zero-hours contracts

From today, section 153 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 is in force. This section inserts ss 27A and 27B into the Employment Rights Act 1996. These changes are the result of two consultations by the government (December 2013 and March 2015).

Exclusivity clause ban

The new ERA 1996 s27A states that any provision of a zero-hours contract which prohibits the worker from doing work or performing services under another contract or under any other arrangement, or prohibits him or her from doing so without the employer’s consent, is unenforceable against the worker.

This section also provides a definition of “zero-hours contracts”:

“In this section “zero hours contract” means 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.”

Section 27B of the ERA 1996 creates a power for the Government to make further provision to prevent zero-hours workers being restricted in their ability to work for other employers.

Comment

While such exclusivity clauses are now banned, there are ways around this, such as drafting the contract so that the worker must be available to work at all times or by giving the worker a set very low number of working hours so that the contract is not a “zero-hours contract”.

Erinna Foley-Fisher

Practice Areas: 
Employment