The new provisions were first introduced under the last government, and championed by former business secretary Vince Cable (pictured above). They were passed into law under the small business, enterprise and employment bill, which comes into force today.
Nick Boles, minister of state for the department of business, innovation and skills said yesterday that the current government nevertheless welcomes the measures.
“Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts prevent people from boosting their income when they have no guarantee of work,” Boles said. “Banning these clauses will give working people the freedom to take other work opportunities and more control over their work hours and income. It brings financial security one step closer for lots of families.”
Neil Carberry, director of employment and skills at the Confederation of British Industry, also praised the law, calling it “a proportionate response to tackling examples of poor practice”.
But he also cautioned that further regulation must not damage the flexible labour market.
Speaking about the changes Kirsty Ayre, an employment Partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: “It is difficult to know at this stage how much of a difference these new rules will make. Employers can still include clauses requiring workers on such contracts to be available for work if required, which may have a similar impact to an exclusivity clause.
“Employers do however need to check the terms of any zero-hours contracts they are using and if they contain exclusivity clauses, they need to be removed.
“Employers may as a result of these new laws find that that they are at risk of an employee working for a competitor. If this is the case, they should take action by either putting them on a different type of contract, or beefing up the confidentiality and IP provisions and restrictive covenants.”