Employers will be able to circumvent the proposed ban on exclusivity clauses for zero hours workers.
In its response to the government’s latest consultation on the issue, arbitration and conciliation service Acas said evidence from analysis of calls to its helpline shows it would be relatively straightforward for employers to get round the ban.
In its May discussion paper Give and take? Unravelling the true nature of zero-hours contracts, Acas looked at research around zero hours contracts as well as employers and employees who called its helpline. On average it said it takes 70 calls a week about zero hours contracts.
Acas chair Sir Brendan Barber said: “An employer could reduce or stop offers of work to those who take an additional job. Workers might be discouraged from taking on an additional job because they are concerned that their work opportunities will be reduced if they do.”
Barber added that government proposals for regulations that require employers to pay compensation to zero hours workers could be needed to protect them.
Barber said: “Our analysis revealed that many workers on zero hours contracts experience a deep sense of unfairness and mistrust that go beyond the use of exclusivity clauses.
“A lot of workers on zero hours contracts are afraid of looking for work elsewhere, turning down hours, or questioning their employment rights in case their work is withdrawn or reduced. This deep rooted ‘effective exclusivity’ can be very damaging to trust and to the employment relationship.”
Acas said there is also a lack of transparency on contract terms, with many people seemingly unaware they were on a zero hours contract. It is developing further guidance for employers and workers in this area.
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