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Changes are to be made to the rules on zero-hours contracts following a Government Consultation on the issue, meaning that employers will be banned from implementing 'exclusivity clauses' - which prevent employees finding extra work elsewhere.
According to recent figures by the Office for National Statistics, there are around 1.4 million zero-hour contacts in operation in the UK, with nearly half of large companies using them. Some companies operate with almost their entire workforce on zero-hours contracts - for example, high street chain Sports Direct has approximately 20,000 of its 23,000 employees on such contracts.
Zero-hour contacts are undoubtedly controversial, as zero-hours workers do not have the same employment rights as those on employment contracts, leaving them open to exploitation by unscrupulous employers. For this reason, trade unions and employment groups have campaigned for zero-hours contracts to be banned altogether.
Business secretary Vince Cable, who announced the plans, suffered criticism over the move from Labour and anti-poverty groups, although has since promised that he will consult further on how to enforce the ban and stop rogue employers from exploiting workers. Campaign group 38 Degrees said, "A ban on exclusivity in zero-hours contract is a good first step, but it doesn't nearly go far enough."
Cable defended the decision by saying that zero-hours contracts "offer valuable flexible working opportunities for students, older people and other people looking to top up their income and find work that suits their personal circumstances".
Whether you are employer or an employee looking for advice in relation to zero-hour contracts, Employment Law Edinburgh can help. To discuss zero hour contracts or any other employment law matter, call 0131 208 3459 or complete our online enquiry form.