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Eversheds comment: Zero hour contract changes face legal hurdle

      19-12-2013

      With today’s publication by the UK Government of a consultation into the use, and potential abuse, of zero hour contracts in the UK workplace, Simon Rice-Birchall, partner at global law firm Eversheds, comments:

      “The major problem faced by the Government is the absence of any legal definition of a zero hour contract. This matters because any attempt at regulating their use without a clear definition will inevitably be a blunt instrument and may have unintended and undesirable consequences, for example, putting up barriers to other forms of flexible work. This is one reason why the Government is signalling a cautious approach to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

      “However, with the political heat rising over the potential abuse of zero hour contracts, employers should expect some change to come. In particular, it seems likely that the Government will seek to stop employers from unnecessarily banning zero hour workers working for another employer: so-called ‘exclusivity’ clauses. In practice, few employers demand such exclusivity and many will consider this a reasonable step in the circumstances.”

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