The UK is currently going through a cost of living crisis. A recent survey conducted by job website Flex found that over a third of those UK workers surveyed are considering taking up some form of additional temporary work to supplement their income. Typically, delivery driving or working at a bar.
Many employers have exclusive employment clauses in their contracts which state that the employee’s whole time, attention, and abilities must be dedicated to their primary employer. Others will state that permission must be obtained from the employer if the employee is seeking to obtain a second job.
It is important to be aware that exclusivity clauses for those who are on zero-hour contracts are not enforceable. The purpose of these types of contracts is that the employee is under no obligation to accept work and the employer is under no obligation to offer it. Therefore, the government considered it to be unfair to attempt to restrict the worker’s earning potential in this way.
Zero hours workers who are dismissed for breaching such a clause in their contract have the ability to bring an unfair dismissal claim to the employment tribunal. They would also be able to make a claim if they were subjected to a detriment for breaching such a clause. The terms of the regulations are quite narrow and it seems as though if a worker was subjected to a detriment because an employer suspected them of breaching an exclusivity clause, whether they were or weren’t, they would not be able to bring a claim.
So how do employers deal with such requests? Requests should be considered carefully and only denied if it is reasonable. For example, if the employee is coming in to work tired and unable to perform at the best of their abilities, or if they are requesting to work for a competitor.
If employers are minded to accept the request they do need to be mindful of the Working Time Regulations. These state that an employee must not work over 48 hours a week on average. The primary employer should make sure that they get details from the employee as to how many additional hours they will be planning on working. If the combination of jobs exceeds the 48 hour average the primary employer should request that an employee sign an opt out agreement which would disapply the 48 hour limit.
It is important for the employer to monitor the situation, have open conversations and clear boundaries.
If you have any questions on any of the issues mentioned in the above article, please contact Natalia Milne.