Employers can no longer employ zero-hour workers on exclusive contracts.

It means that a worker could, in theory, hold multiple contracts, and work for an array of different companies if the hours crop up.

New rules banning such exclusivity contracts come into effect today after being unveiled during the last Parliament to stop employers preventing staff on zero hours contracts from working for someone else.

Customers talking to a cafe worker
(Elise Amendola/AP/PA)

But business leaders have cautioned against any more regulations hitting the practice of employing people with no guarantee of how many hours they might work – something Labour was calling for during the General Election campaign.

Neil Carberry, the CBI’s director for employment and skills, said: “Banning exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts is a proportionate response to tackling examples of poor practice.

“But any further regulation must not damage our flexible labour market, which is an important success story of our economy, benefiting employers and employees alike.”

Chuka Umunna
Labour’s Chuka Umunna thinks the new rules don’t go far enough (Anthony Devlin/PA)

But there’s still a worry surrounding the use of contracts and how they could include exclusivity in all but name.

Kirsty Ayre, of law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “It is difficult to know at this stage how much of a difference these new rules will make. Employers can still include clauses requiring workers on such contracts to be available for work if required, which may have a similar impact to an exclusivity clause.”

The government believes the changes will give people a “fair chance to earn a decent living”.

Business minister Nick Boles said: “We want all working people in Britain to have a fair chance to earn a decent living. Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts prevent people from boosting their income when they have no guarantee of work.

“Banning these clauses will give working people the freedom to take other work opportunities and more control over their work hours and income. It brings financial security one step closer for lots of families in Britain.”

But there’s still unrest about use of the shift at all.

And always a joker…