Zero Hours Contracts – Do You Know The Rules?

As the amount of people working under zero hours contracts rises ever higher, new legislation brought in by the Government this year has raised a lot of questions from employers. Can you still employ people on zero hours contracts? What about enforcing exclusivity clauses in your zero hours contracts? Here’s a HR legislation update to keep you on top of the rules.

You can still employ people on zero hours contracts

Last month the Office for National Statistics reported that the use of zero hours contracts had jumped by one-fifth. The Government deems these contracts useful where work demands are irregular, and they also allow a level of flexibility for employees in regards to other commitments such as childcare or study.

Therefore, they are of benefit to a company where you may need additional staff at short notice, your business is seasonal with surges in demand at certain times of the year, or you are starting a new service or business and you are not certain about staffing requirements.

This arrangement can be of benefit to both employers and employees. Recent CIPD figures have shown that zero-hours workers are just as satisfied with their job when compared to the average UK employee (60% vs 59%) and are happier with their work/life balance (65% vs 58%).

The Government guidance also states where zero hours contracts would not be appropriate, especially when working hours are fixed for a long period of time.

The ban of the exclusivity clause

The initial guidance on the ban on exclusivity in zero hours contracts was vague, but the Government has recently released guidance for employers on what this means for them.

Since May 2015 employers have not been able to enforce exclusivity clauses in their contracts, and this applies to existing clauses too. Your zero hours employees can no longer work for you, and you only.

You can not prevent casual staff working for another employer, even though they are not guaranteed work, even if the clause was in place before May 2015. The employee also can not suffer a detriment in that job if they choose to ignore the longstanding exclusivity clause and get another job at the same time.

Need some more guidance?

If you are unsure about the use of zero hours contracts, whether they would be of benefit to your company, or if your exclusivity clauses are out of date, contact me today for HR advice and guidance.

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