Protection for zero hour contract workers comes into force

New regulations have come into force which bring important changes concerning zero hour contracts and will be to the benefit of workers. In particular, the regulations give zero hours workers protection if they are penalised for working for another employer.

Zero Hours Contract Employment Law Regulations

It is very important for employers of zero hour workers and those workers themselves to understand what these changes are and how the Regulations will provide new protection for zero hours workers.

The changes are to be found in the Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hour Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015.

What do the changes relate to?

The Regulations aim to offer protection for individuals, particularly if they are punished or dismissed for taking on other work by offering them a remedy. This remedy is something which was previously not available despite exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts already being banned.

The relevant provisions of the regulations relate to the right for zero hours contract workers not to be unfairly dismissed and not to be subject to detriment for reasons relating to a breach of a provision of that contract in terms of the Employment Rights Act 1996 s.27A(3).

What are the new protections in place?

As mentioned above, the Regulations bring in new remedies for zero hours workers which were previously unavailable. There are three key changes which are of note.

  1. If a zero hours contract employee is dismissed because they have breached a clause prohibiting them from working for another employer, then that dismissal will automatically be unfair. This is also applicable if the primary reason for their dismissal is due to that breach.
  2. There will be no required qualifying period to bring an unfair dismissal claim in the above circumstances.
  3. The Regulations provide that it will be unlawful for a zero hour worker to be subject to detriment if they have acted in breach of an exclusivity clause by working for another employer. It is important to note that this last change relates to zero hours ‘workers’ and not ‘employees’.

What do you have to do?

Zero hour contracts are becoming more and more common in today’s flexible working environment. These changes represent both recognition of this and of the need to sufficiently protect individuals on a zero hour contract.

It will therefore be important for employers to recognise the new protections offered to zero hours workers and to respect those rights.

Get in touch

If you employ zero hours workers and would like to know how this may affect your business, or if you are a zero hours worker and feel that you need some advice regarding this, then please contact a member of our dedicated and experienced employment law team.