WorkLife

Our thoughts on the world of employment law - and beyond.

Zero Hours Contracts – first steps towards protection

Just a quick reminder that as of yesterday, measures are in place to protect zero hour contract workers – albeit in limited circumstances.  This was such a hot potato around election time and it is interesting how something which was so widely publicised in those debates has been shaped much more narrowly during the legislative process.  So, rather than the much touted (and, to many, entirely unnecessary) plans to ban zero hours contracts (it was never clear quite how it was envisaged this would work in practice), what we have are regulations (see The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hour Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015)  which provide that:-

  • any dismissal of a zero hour contract employee is automatically unfair, if the main reason for the dismissal is that s/he breached a contractual clause prohibiting him/her from working for another employer 
  • no qualifying period is required to bring such an unfair dismissal claim.

In addition, it is also (as one would expect) unlawful to subject a worker to a detriment if they work for another employer in breach of a clause prohibiting them from doing so.  It is noteworthy (and, I suppose, logical in the dismissal context) that the core provisions apply to employees and the detriment provisions to the wider worker category.

It will be interesting to see the extent to which this will be seen (and used) as a means of curing the much publicised concerns about ‘abuse’ of this type of contract or whether, as some expect, this important, but not squarely central, provision, rather misses the mark.

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