The Government announced in June (see our 25 June alert) that it intends to “ban” the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts. The proposed ban forms part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill currently making its way through Parliament.  The Bill also provides for the Government to introduce legislation to tackle avoidance of the ban and it has now launched a consultation on how that power should be used.

The Government is seeking views on:

  • the likelihood of employers seeking to avoid a ban on exclusivity clauses and how they might go about it;
  • whether the Government should do more to deal with potential avoidance, and how that might best be achieved e.g. setting an hours threshold below which exclusivity clauses would be banned;
  • whether there should be consequences for an employer if it restricts work opportunities (e.g. by offering no work or fewer opportunities to work) for zero hours employees who, following the introduction of the ban on exclusivity clauses, work for other employers and, if so, what those consequences should be (e.g. criminal or civil penalties); and
  • whether there are any potentially negative or unintended consequences as a result of the wording of the legislation.

Along with reviewing the existing guidance on zero hours contracts, the Government also envisages the development of industry-led, industry-owned, sector-specific Codes of Practice on the “fair” use of zero hours contracts.  The Government hopes that these new Codes of Practice will be developed by business representatives and trade unions working together (with its support).

The consultation closes on 3 November.