With the General Election looming, many employment matters are the subject of debate. What continues to be a key employment issue is the controversial topic of zero-hours contracts.
Currently progressing through Parliament are provisions that will render exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts unenforceable. This is to avoid the undesirable situation where individuals have no security of work from one company yet cannot earn a living with another.
With voting being a matter of months away, the Tory government is taking action to deal with pre-empted attempts to circumvent the exclusivity clause ban. Envisaging some employers offering individuals one hour contracts, complete with an exclusivity clause, secondary legislation has been announced.
Under that legislation, one hour contracts and their ilk that do not guarantee the worker a specified minimum income will be defined as a ‘prescribed contract’.
The minimum income threshold is to be determined by reference to the National Minimum Wage (“NMW”), multiplied by an agreed number of work hours. This affords fluidity to ensure that the minimum threshold keeps abreast of the NMW, so that the anti-avoidance provisions remain fit for purpose.
An exclusivity clause in a prescribed contract will be unenforceable, as it would be in a zero-hours contract (with the one exception of where the worker is to receive an hourly rate of £20 or more). Similarly, those working under a prescribed or zero-hours contract will be protected from any detriment arising out of the worker working or performing services elsewhere.
As we embark on the home straight of election season, stay with us for our comprehensive blogs on the employment pledges of the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems, and UKIP that will be published shortly.