The Government has now responded to its consultation on the use of zero-hours contracts. This states that the Government will ban the use of exclusivity clauses and increase the availability of information on zero-hours contracts for employees. The Government will also work with unions and business to develop a best practice code of conduct aimed at employers who wish to use zero-hours contracts.

The ban on exclusivity clauses will form part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. The Government states that 83% of the responses to the consultation were in favour of the ban. The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has also announced that the Government will:

  • issue a further consultation on how to prevent ‘rogue employers’ evading the exclusivity ban by, for example, offering one-hour fixed contracts
  • work with business representatives and unions to develop a code of practice on the fair use of zero-hours contracts by the end of 2014, and
  • work with stakeholders to review existing guidance and improve information available to employees and employers on using these contracts.

The Government response is in the unusual form of a statement of the consultation’s outcome and a link to a press release. This may be partly due to the extremely high number of responses, over 36,000, of which 35,000 were as a result of a campaign run by 38 Degrees. By way of contrast, a consultation on what could be said to be a more controversial topic – the introduction of employment tribunal and EAT fees ­– got fewer than 150 responses.