The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act
The Small Business, Enterpriseand Employment Act 2015 (SBEEA 2015) was announced in the Queen'sspeech in 2014. The proposed Act was then introduced as aGovernment Bill to the House of Commons. The most notablearea of legislative reform proposed by the Act and indeed, the mostpublicised, was the provisions in relation to a ban on exclusivityin zero hours contracts.
The purpose, however, of theAct was to cover a number of areas of legislative reform with astated intention to reduce the barriers that could hinder abilityof small business to innovate, grow and compete.
In the main, the employmentprovisions contained in the Act require a commencement date beforecoming into force. On 26 May 2015, however, certainprovisions including a zero hours exclusivity ban came intoforce. The Act also enables the Government to introducefurther provisions in relation to zero hours contractsgenerally.
The effect of the regulationsis to ban exclusivity clauses in contracts that do not guaranteehours of work. This will enable a worker to do work orperform services under another contract or arrangement and indeedto do so without the employer's consent.
The Government did, however,acknowledge during the consultation process that it would bestraight forward for employers to side step the exclusivity ban,for example, by offering contracts that guarantee just one hour ofwork or alternatively by providing no work to individuals whochoose to work for other employers.
It is anticipated that furtherregulation will follow to include penalties for employers whocircumvent the exclusivity ban and indeed the means by whichindividuals who suffer detrimental treatment can complain to theEmployment Tribunal.
In the meantime, zero hourscontracts remain a much debated topic. Acas has indicatedthat further to research carried out by them many workers wereunaware that they were on a zero hours contract or indeed wronglybelieved that they were permanent employees. Acas hascommitted to producing further guidance on the use of zero hourscontracts for both employers and workers in order to raiseawareness and reduce uncertainty.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.