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Employees now have the right to take employers to an employment tribunal if they are punished for breach of an exclusivity clause in their zero hour contract.

Under such contracts, staff members are not guaranteed any set hours meaning that their wage can vary from week to week, or they can be effectively frozen out of employment. While many companies opt to use zero-hour contracts, some also inserted an exclusivity clause meaning that they could fairly dismiss or prevent an employee from working for another organisation without consent.

Although such clauses have been banned since May 2015, the start of 2016 grants workers the powers to take legal action if they are still forced into such an agreement. The legislation gives workers working under a zero hours contract the right to complain to an employment tribunal where they are dismissed or suffer a detriment for working for another employer or asking their employer for permission to do so.

The government guidance reads: “An employer must allow the individual to take work elsewhere to earn an income if they do not offer sufficient hours.

“If an employer includes an exclusivity clause in a zero hours contract, the individual cannot be bound by it, the law states the individual can ignore it.

“An employer must not attempt to avoid the exclusivity ban by, for example, stipulating that the individual must seek their permission to look for or accept work elsewhere.”

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Business Secretary Vince Cable has this week launched a consultation into how best to tackle the problem of zero hour contracts. Cable is asking businesses, unions and individuals to help highlight and close potential ‘loopholes’ in the governments plan to outlaw the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

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Hiring intentions in the United Kingdom (UK) as a whole, are at their highest level since the recession, whilst Scotland's employment outlook is at a seven year high. Therefore, employers wishing to add to their workforce, must ensure that contracts of employment are properly drafted.

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From 30th June the right to request flexible working will extend to all employees who have been working continuously for 26 weeks.

Flexible working covers types of employment contract as well as places of work, enabling employees and employers to vary traditional working patterns. Examples of typical flexible working arrangements include job sharing, working from home and changing the hours or times of work.

Under the new employment rules, the right to request flexible working will be extended and the complex statutory procedure for dealing with requests replaced:

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published data estimating the number of people on zero-hours contracts to be around 1.4 million.

Following a survey of 5,000 employers, the results show that in January to February 2014 there were approximately 1.4 million employee contracts that didn't guarantee a minimum number of hours or pay. These zero-hours contracts (employment contracts in which an employer does not guarantee the individual any work and the individual is not obliged to accept any work offered) are currently being closely scrutinised because they do not safeguard workers.

The data shows that:

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