Government publishes new zero hours contract regulations and guidance
The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015 have been published in draft form and laid before Parliament.
Section 27A(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that a provision in a zero hours contract (ZHC) which prohibits the worker from doing work under any other contract or arrangement is unenforceable. These regulations now make provision in relation to the right for eligible individuals on a ZHC not to be unfairly dismissed or subjected to a detriment because they have breached a provision of a ZHC to which section 27A(3) applies. The unfair dismissal provisions apply to employees only and no qualifying period of employment is needed to bring a claim and the detriment provisions apply to a wider category of workers.
The regulations provide for complaints about breach to be brought in employment tribunal and the remedies for individuals include a declaration of rights and compensation.
The regulations also require the Secretary of State to review the operation and effect of the regulations and publish a report within five years after they come into force and within every five years thereafter. The regulations are due to come into force 28 days after the day on which they are made.
Finally, the Government has produced new online guidance for employers on ZHCs (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/zero-hours-contracts-guidance-for-employers/zero-hours-contracts-guidance-for-employers). It explains what ZHCs are, the employment rights of workers employed on ZHCs and the difference between appropriate and inappropriate use of such arrangements, and it gives guidance on best practice and alternatives to ZHCs.
Petaurum Solutions’ Comment
Given the negative media coverage on the use of zero hours contract, it is not surprising that the government has issued this guidance.
Zero hours contracts are useful when they are used appropriately, for example where work demands are irregular or where there is not a constant demand for staff. Zero hours contracts can also provide a level of flexibility for the individual, which allows them to work around other commitments such as study or childcare.
Zero hours contracts do not allow employers to avoid their responsibilities. All staff, regardless of their contract, are entitled to employment rights and should be treated fairly and within the law.
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