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Zero hours contract ‘exclusivity causes’ to be banned

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced that exclusivity clauses for workers on zero hours contracts are to be banned. Such clauses tie people to one firm and prevent them from looking for additional work elsewhere to supplement their incomes.

An estimated 125,000 zero-hours contract workers are bound by exclusivity clauses and Mr Cable said that some "unscrupulous" companies had “abused” the flexibility offered by the contracts.

Zero hours contracts have become controversial, with some 1.4 million people working on contracts that do not guarantee a minimum number of hours, and some Unions and campaign groups wish to see them banned altogether.

However, Mr Cable has stated that zero hours contracts have a role to play in the labour market, being particularly suited to students and older people. "For many workers this is a perfectly sensible arrangement. But a lot of people on the contracts aren't sure what their rights are and we want to make them [zero-hour contracts] more transparent," he said.

Then move to ban exclusivity clauses comes after a consultation found widespread support across the political spectrum for the measure. John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Maintaining the UK's flexible labour market is crucial to keeping unemployment down. Zero-hours contracts are vital for a successful jobs market, but they must be fair and work for all parties.

"The ban on exclusivity clauses, which bind workers to one firm, is a balanced way of addressing concerns. However, the Government must ensure that any further changes do not jeopardise business flexibility or employment opportunities."

The Government will now consult on how to prevent employers evading the ban through measures such as offering one-hour fixed contracts.