Zero-hours exclusivity clause ban

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11 Sep 2014

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The government is apparently to prohibit "Exclusive" zero hours contracts which preclude workers from having any other employment see - www.gov.uk/government/news/government-crackdown-on-zero-hours-contract-abusers, writes Croner’s Head of Employment, Richard Smith. I am not convinced that this is really the issue or that this is the correct solution, despite the assertion that there may be 125k workers with such terms (which in the paper is acknowledged to be an extrapolation from two separate pieces of data). It would be interesting to know of examples in which the employer has used such terms and what the interest is that they seek to protect - and indeed whether they are enforced. While a restriction on all work seems harsh - there may be good reasons to preclude someone from working on a casual basis across multiple competing employers or where brand reputation could be put at risk. Perhaps these clauses are a broadside where a more targeted approach would be better. Further, it seems pretty easy to think of ways in which the same result could be achieved by the employer either within the contract (stipulations on availability or offering minimal hours per week) or informally - by telling workers that they cannot do other work/will not be offered hours if they do. However, this seems to fall in the "something must be done" bracket of legislation. With zero hours contracts seen as a great evil, the Government can at least say they are taking action to curb abuse even if it is all a bit futile. What do you think?

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