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Tag: consultation flexible working

What do we already know?

The Queen’s Speech in 2019 included a commitment to introduce an Employment Bill (see our January 2020 Newsletter Government reforms: New Year, New Law!).  The Bill was expected to include:

  • a right to request a more predictable contract for workers (particularly relevant to those working on variable or zero hour contracts);
  • making flexible working the default (unless employers have good reason not to allow it);
  • extending redundancy protections to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination;
  • a new right to neonatal leave for parents whose babies require neonatal care after birth and a right to one week’s leave for unpaid carers; and
  • the creation of a new single enforcement body for workers’ rights.

The Employment Bill was not in fact introduced as intended in the 2019-2021 parliamentary session.

What’s new?

The Employment Bill has been delayed again and there was no mention of it in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May 2022.

However, in a separate announcement (see here) the Government has taken further steps to protect workers on zero hour or similar low paid contracts (one of the aims of the Employment Bill). It said that later this year it will extend the existing ban on exclusivity clauses (introduced in 2015) to all contracts where a worker has a guaranteed weekly income at or below the lower earnings limit for National Insurance purposes, currently £123 per week.


This means that clauses in employment contracts that prevent a worker from working for someone else or doing so without the employer’s consent will be unenforceable, unless the worker is entitled to pay of more than the lower earnings limit. Dismissing an employee or subjecting a worker to a detriment for breaching an unenforceable exclusivity clause is automatically unfair.

Employers who currently include an exclusivity clause for workers earning on or below the lower earnings limit will need to update their contracts and consider whether any other provisions or policies need updating and reiterating; for example confidentiality requirements and any provisions restricting unfair competition will be important where a worker has more than one employer.

Return to Menzies Law Newsletter 2022 Issue 2

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