The New Year has brought with it new rights for zero-hours contracted employees as regulations surrounding exclusivity clauses kick in.
The new rules, which came into effect on January 11, give zero-hours workers redress against employers that they did not have before.
Zero-hours contracts are where employers hire staff on an as-needed basis, with no regular guarantee of work. Legislation brought in last year made exclusivity clauses in a zero-hours employment contract – ones that prevented employees from seeking work elsewhere – unenforceable.
But while the 2015 law gave more power to zero-hours employees, there was no penalty for employers who appeared to still be treating them unfairly. As of last week, employees on zero-hours contracts who think their employer is breaching the exclusivity clause can take action against them. The new rules give workers the right to complain to an employment tribunal over unfair dismissal or suffering a detriment as a result of exclusivity in a zero-hours contract.
Alan Matthew, partner and employment law expert at Scottish firm Miller Hendry, says the latest regulations close an important legal loophole.
Matthew said: “Employers should be aware of these changes. If an employee on a zero-hours contract is dismissed because they have worked for another employer, that is automatically unfair and could lead to a claim for unfair dismissal. It is now unlawful to subject a zero-hour worker to detriment for working for another employer. Lastly, there is no qualifying period of employment required to bring such a claim for unfair dismissal compared to a two-year qualifying period for most unfair dismissal claims.”
The new Regulations were passed by the UK Government last year under The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015.