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Zero hours guidance

Does your business rely to some extent on casual labour? If so, you may well be using zero hours contracts. They can be really useful, flexible ways of covering things like staff illness, seasonal work, projects and ‘on-call’ duties.

You won’t have failed to notice that zero hours contracts have been in for some criticism recently. A huge bone of contention has been around exclusivity clauses; terms within these agreements that stopped workers topping up their (fluctuating) earnings by working elsewhere. Now that these clauses have been banned, zero hours contracts have clawed back some popularity. Are you comfortable about when and how to use them?

This guide from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills should help:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/zero-hours-contracts-guidance-for-employers/zero-hours-contracts-guidance-for-employers.

It has some really clear pointers about appropriate and inappropriate use. It is also good on best practice and on alternative arrangements that you could put in place.

While we are on the subject, the Government has published draft regulations (the ‘Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015’) which could thwart employers who ignore the ban on exclusivity clauses. Yes, these clauses will be unenforceable and, yes, employees could choose to take no notice of them. In any event, the regulations will offer certain specific protections for people working under zero hours contracts:

– The dismissal of an employee (however long they have been employed) will be unfair if the reason, or main reason, is that they did not comply with an exclusivity clause; and
– The right for workers to not suffer a detriment because of failure to comply with an exclusivity clause.