Zero hours rules to crack down on exclusivity

EMPLOYERS hiring workers on zero-hours contracts will no longer be allowed to compel their staff to work only for them, following a government intervention announced today.

Exclusivity clauses will now be banned for zero-hours contracts, allowing workers to look for and undertake employment elsewhere. The government estimates that 125,000 workers are tied to such arrangements.

Business secretary Vince Cable said that the practice gave “valuable flexible working opportunities” to some, but that the contracts had been misused in some workplaces, too.

“It has become clear that some unscrupulous employers abuse the flexibility that these contracts offer,” he added.

The measure was suggested repeatedly in a recent consultation on employment practices.

“Tying an employee into an exclusivity cause can turn a flexible contract into a rigid and archaic one,” said Simon Walker, director general at the Institute of Directors.

He continued: “The debate around zero hours contracts has, at times, been hysterical. In this context, the government should be congratulated for protecting the valuable elements of such arrangements.”

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