Employment Law expert comments on further zero hours consultation
Howes Percival Employment Law expert, Harriet Howes, commented, "Zero hours contracts have grown in popularity in recent years, particularly in sectors such as hospitality. They continue to be a hot topic and this further consultation demonstrates that the Government is keen to try and ensure they effectively regulate the use of these contracts.
"As we have no implementation date for the ban on exclusivity clauses yet, employers do not have to take any immediate action. However, employers who currently have exclusivity clauses in their contracts will need to watch this space as further regulations may be issued in November, following this consultation."
Last summer the Government conducted an informal information gathering exercise on zero hours contracts in response to concerns about abuse of this type of contract.
Following that review, the Government launched a public consultation seeking views on the merit of banning exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts. 83% of people who responded to the consultation supported a ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.
As a result, the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill has introduced a provision that will ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts which do not guarantee any hours. This bill is due to be debated in the House of Commons in October.
However, following the consultation, concerns were raised that employers could potentially sidestep the exclusivity ban, for example by offering contracts that guarantee just one hour of work.
In order to try and address these concerns, on Monday, the Government launched a further consultation which seeks views on the best mechanism to tackle avoidance of the exclusivity ban in contracts and possible routes of redress for the individual.
The consultation asks for views on:
· what the likelihood of employers avoiding a ban on exclusivity clauses might be and how that might be achieved
· whether the government should do more to deal with potential avoidance, how might that be best achieved, and whether to do this alongside the ban or wait for evidence of whether such avoidance is taking place
· how potential avoidance could be dealt with
· whether there should be consequences for an employer if they circumvent a ban on exclusivity clauses and, if so, what those consequences should be and
· whether there are any potentially negative or unintended consequences as a result of the wording of the legislation.
The consultation closes on 3 November 2014.