The Office of National Statistics has found that 1.8 million workers were employed by UK companies using zero hours contracts last summer; with additional data showing that nearly 700,000 employees had zero hours contracts between October-December 2014. This amounts to 2.3% of the UK workforce.

A zero hours contract is traditionally used for casual working, it does not guarantee the worker with work and pays a worker only for the work that they have actually carried out. These types of contracts are commonly used by employers in the retail and hospitality industries. Many employers expect workers to be available for work when or if they are asked to work.

Following consultation which ended in March 2014, the government has decided to make the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts unenforceable through a provision in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. This Bill was published in June 2014 and is expected to be passed before the dissolution of Parliament on March 31st. The legislation will also provide a statutory definition of a zero hours contract.

Employers may wish to consider their options with this impending legislation. Although zero hours contracts have attracted negative publicity, they can provide an aspect of flexibility for both an employer and employee. With the ban of exclusivity clauses, employers now may need to re-evaluate whether these are the correct type of contracts required for their business needs.