Business, unions and individuals have been called upon to help identify and close potential loopholes in plans to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

The Government wants to find out whether a minority of unscrupulous employers may attempt to circumvent the ban by offering contracts which could, for example, guarantee just one hour of work. It has therefore launched a consultation to seek views on the best method to prevent this from happening, and ask people whether they think this route may be exploited and whether the Government should take pre-emptive steps.

It also proposes options, such as civil penalties, that workers could use to seek justice if they are treated unfairly by their employer because they found work elsewhere while on a zero hours contract.

The consultation follows the announcement in June 2014 that the Government would ban the use of exclusivity clauses. Exclusivity clauses prevent workers on zero hours contracts from taking work elsewhere even when their employer provides no work.

“We are tightening the screws on rogue employers who try to abuse workers on zero hours contracts,” explained Business Secretary, Vince Cable. “We are looking closely at any potential loopholes that could arise from a ban, to ensure that these are closed off and no one can get round the new law. We are also ensuring there is access to justice for workers treated unfairly.”

“The evidence shows that the vast majority of zero hours contracts have been used responsibly by many businesses for many years, but unfortunately we know that some abuse does take place,” he added. ”This is why we are bringing in new laws to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, which currently stop employees getting other jobs if they need to top up their income.”

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