Call for help to close loopholes in zero hours exclusivity ban

The government is calling on businesses, unions and employees to help it ensure there are no loopholes in the law banning exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

Ministers fear some unscrupulous employers may try to get round the ban by methods such as offering contracts guaranteeing one or two hours’ work a week.

The issue has been put to public consultation with the government seeking ideas and advice from all interested parties.  It asks for views on what problems might arise and whether the government should take pre-emptive steps to prevent them.

It suggests one option might be to introduce civil penalties that workers could use to seek justice if they are treated unfairly for finding alternative work while subject to a zero hours contract.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “We are tightening the screws on rogue employers who try to abuse workers on zero hours contracts. We are looking closely at any potential loopholes that could arise from a ban, to ensure that these are closed off and no one can get round the new law. We are also ensuring there is access to justice for workers treated unfairly.

“The evidence shows that the vast majority of zero hours contracts have been used responsibly by many businesses for many years, but unfortunately we know that some abuse does take place. This is why we are bringing in new laws to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, which currently stop employees getting other jobs if they need to top up their income.

“We want to give individuals the chance to find work that suits their individual circumstances whilst also giving employers the confidence to hire and create new jobs.”

The consultation runs until 3 November this year. We shall keep clients informed of developments.

Please contact us at if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.