January Change to Zero Hours Contract Regulations

Employees now have the right to make an employment tribunal claim where they feel they are being punished by their employers because they have breached the exclusivity clause in their zero hours contract.

By definition a zero hours contract guarantees no hours or times of work and people agree to be available for work as they are required. Some contracts contained a clause to prevent the employee working for another employer or stopped them doing so without obtaining the employers consent. This was called the exclusivity clause.

Changes to the law regarding zero hours contracts in May 2015 stated that where exclusivity clauses were included in employment contracts, the employee was not bound by it and could ignore it. Employers were required to allow their employees to work elsewhere when there was not enough work for them and could not attempt to bypass the ban by requiring the employee to seek permission before looking for work elsewhere. However the changes did not give employees the right to take action is they felt they had been dismissed or disadvantaged by their employer for working for another employer or for asking permission to do so. Examples of being disadvantaged could include a failure to offer work in the future or offering less work than had previously been offered. Effectively this meant that although the employee was not bound by the exclusivity clause in the contract there was no opportunity for redress if they were penalised for working elsewhere or for seeking permission to do so.

From 11 January 2016 the law has changed and where an employee makes a successful claim regarding detrimental treatment at an Employment Tribunal an award of compensation may be made. The level of compensation is discretionary and based on what the Tribunal consider “just and equitable”.