The most recent legislation bans the use of exclusivity clauses (i.e where an employer can state that the employee is not allowed to work for anyone else) and this comes into force via the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.
So what are zero hours contracts, and why use them?
In the past, organisations have had to specify the number of hours an employee is guaranteed to be given each week for work, and failure to comply is a breach of contract on the part of the organisation.
Many organisations still guarantee set hours - but for some where business fluctuates, a zero hours contract can work brilliantly for employer and employee.
The bad press around zero hours contracts has been created by companies that have abused the use of them - knowing they will need staff to be present for example in a business that opens between 9am and 5.30pm. Instead of guaranteeing hours there has been a blanket issue of zero hours contracts which in some cases has lead to the employment rights of individuals being wrongly diminished. Many of these issues have since been resolved, but it is not always clear cut.
The most recent controversy - that someone employed on a zero hours contract can not work for another employer has been addressed via legislation. Is this an expensive way to do the right thing?
Are certain organisations finding legal loopholes?
Employees can still be asked to turn up for a shift only to be sent away with no work.
For me, this is mis-management, and an abuse of the employee/employer relationship.
I have seen how zero hours contracts can and do work for the benefit of both parties.
And what it relies on is honesty and communication between the employer and the employee.
So don't be put off using them in your business if your trade/service fluctuates.
And do treat employees on zero hours contracts with the same rights to holiday pay etc. as those on guaranteed hours.
Most importantly - keep the communication channels open. Know when your pool of zero hours workers will be unavailable (exam times!) and encourage your guaranteed hours staff to take holidays when your pool of zero hours staff are fully available.
Have a great week