BIS publishes guidance on zero hour contracts

The Government appear to be reacting to the controversy surrounding zero hour contracts and exclusivity clauses, with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) publishing guidance for employers and draft regulations.
BIS guidance now suggests that:

  • Zero hour contracts are only appropriate in situations where an employee is engaged in seasonal work or a one-off event, for example
  • When recruiting, employers should clearly advertise the job as a zero hour contract and inform any applicant that hours are not guaranteed
  • Employers should include within the contract whether they deem the individual an employee or a worker, what rights they are entitled to, how work will be offered to them, and how the contract can be terminated
  • Employers should give as much notice as is possible when work is or is not offered
  • Remember that exclusivity clauses have been prohibited since May 2015.

In addition to the guidance, the nattily titled “Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hour Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015” (currently in draft) will introduce new protection for those on zero hours contracts:

  • They will have a right not to be unfairly dismissed if the reason is that they have failed to comply with an exclusivity clause;
  • There is no qualifying period of employment needed to bring such a claim;
  • Zero hour workers have the right not to be subjected to detriment because of non-compliance with an exclusivity clause;
  • If an employer breaches these rights, a worker may issue a claim and seek a declaration or compensation.

What does this mean for employers?
If you make use of zero hours contracts, then we would suggest that you:

  • review your employment contracts;
  • audit your workforce to see if zero hours contracts are the appropriate contracts to use, in line with the BIS guidance.