New rules will give 1.5 million low-wage workers the right to earn more money

Only those on zero-hour contracts are caught by a 2015 ruling that prevents companies from banning them from working shifts elsewhere – there are now plans to extend this to low-wage workers

Low earners are protected from “exclusive contracts”.
Low earners are protected from “exclusive contracts”.

More than a million part-time workers can take second jobs and work extra shifts as part of plans to expand the ban on so-called “exclusive contracts.”

The reforms target low-paid employees who are prevented from working for multiple employers by their current boss.

Currently, only workers on zero-hour contracts are affected by a 2015 ruling that prevents companies from banning them from working shifts elsewhere.

The ministers now want to expand this so that a further 1.5 million low-wage workers are also protected from “exclusive contracts”.

Those covered include workers with guaranteed weekly earnings at or below the minimum earnings limit of £123 per week.

That means the lowest-paid workers will have the opportunity to work extra shifts and make more money during the cost-of-living crisis.

Ministers also hope the new rules will result in staff filling vacancies in key sectors such as retail and hospitality.

Legislation for these reforms will be submitted to Parliament later this year.

The proposals follow the conclusion of a consultation launched by the government in December 2020 to seek views on extending the ban on exclusivity clauses beyond zero-hour contracts.

Do you think more needs to be done to protect low-wage workers? Let us know in the comments below.

Business Secretary Paul Scully said: “We are creating a high-skill, high-productivity labor market that supports workers by removing unnecessary red tape, helping Britons increase their incomes and retain more of what they earn.

“By expanding the ban on exclusivity clauses, we are giving low-paid workers more control and freedom to choose who to work for and how often, including the ability to top up their pay package if they so choose.”

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE, said: “The extension of the ban on exclusivity clauses is to be welcomed. By reducing these restrictive clauses, the opportunity to find more flexible work will be open to more people.”

But union group TUC said the plans would only tinker with the fringes of the cost-of-living crisis and called for more support for low-wage workers.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Ministers should ensure workers are able to secure the working hours they want and need.

“But that’s a tinkering on the side. Extending the ban on exclusivity clauses alone is far from enough to help low-paid and insecure workers.

“The government must present its long-awaited employment law as soon as possible.

“The bill must include workers’ right to a contract that reflects their normal working hours, as well as strict rules on shift notices and compensation for missed shifts.”

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Fry Electronics Team

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