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Simon Bond  

Partner, Employment

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Simon Bond Dec 2012

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Government review of zero hours contracts could have implications for region’s employers


Article date:  10/02/2014

Employment associate Simon Bond says that a government review on the use of zero hours employment contracts could have implications for the region's employers.

Simon said the announcement by Business Secretary Vince Cable will look at two issues - firstly the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts and secondly, whether individuals need to be given greater information about their rights under those contracts.

"Zero hours employment contracts, in which an employer does not guarantee the individual any work, have become increasingly widespread and it is estimated that around one million people are on zero hours arrangements," explains Simon.

"Trade unions are becoming increasingly concerned that zero hours contracts are open to abuse and that the contracts are being used to try to get around the usual protections offered by employment law. However the government's review makes it clear that an outright ban on zero hours contracts is not being considered. According to Mr Cable, such contracts give both businesses and individuals more choice over their working arrangements."

An exclusivity clause is where an employer stops an individual from working elsewhere during the course of a zero hours contract. On the face of it, this might seem unfair if the individual has no guarantee of work from the employer. There may however be good reasons why such exclusivity clauses are used, for example to protect trade secrets or prevent unfair competition.

The government is also concerned that individuals may be entering into zero hours contracts without fully realising the implications. Certainly there is a misapprehension that individuals on such contracts have no rights and are not employees. The government is therefore consulting on the idea of providing greater information to individuals and businesses on the nature of zero hours contracts.

Simon said: "Whilst the present government is unlikely to make any radical changes to the way in which zero hours contracts operate, the Labour Party has signalled its intention to outlaw the misuse of the contracts including a proposal to automatically convert a zero hours contract to a full-time contract after 12 weeks."

Higgs & Sons works from two offices in the Black Country - Waterfront Business Park in Brierley Hill and Kingswinford. The firm employs more than 200 people, which includes over 100 specialist lawyers.

To find out more or for specialist employment advice, call Simon on 0845 111 5050 or email

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