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Zero-Hours Exclusivity Clauses Banned

Jersey employers can't stop any of their workers who are on zero-hours contracts from taking jobs with other companies.

The States has voted to ban exclusivity clauses.

The change to the employment law was put forward by Social Security Minister Deputy Judy Martin.

She said there was no evidence they are being used in Jersey, but that they are an unfair restriction on workers.

"This is not the final word on the subject.

The Employment Forum will be considering, in detail, each part of the original proposition we debated in May last year - including whether a different approach should be taken to protect the rights of workers who do not have the guaranteed working hours."

The States Assembly voted last year to review the legislation to make sure employees on zero-hours contracts are protected, including:

  • Stopping employers from forcing zero-hours workers to always be available for work
  • Banning exclusivity clauses
  • Giving zero-hours workers the right, if they work regular hours, to switch to a contract that reflects that
  • Giving reasonable notice of the work schedule
  • A right to compensation for a cancelled shift without reasonable notice

The Social Security Minister was given until the end of 2022 to bring forward any legislation to implement these actions.

Deputy Geoff Southern brought forward last May's proposition.

He has vowed to push to do more to regulate the use of these contracts to make sure they're fair.

"I've come across several workers - two of whom have just arrived in the island - and when I asked them about what their terms and conditions were, they said I'm on a nine-month contract and one of whom who was just leaving said sorry, I can't vote in your election, I'm just leaving and I just finished my nine-month contract.

So the use of nine-month contracts in the health section is actually taking place."

Staff on zero-hours contracts do not have guaranteed minimum hours.  They also don't have to accept work offered to them.

Senator Sam Mézec won a proposition in 2016 to ban exclusivity clauses.

The Reform Party leader said he's extremely angry at how long it's taken.

"I'm angry because frankly I feel fobbed off. I think that I was misled - not by politicians but by others, to be told that this was a more complicated piece of work than it's actually transpired to be, and it shows behind the scenes the lack of interest there is on important pieces of social legislation that have a big impact on the people who are affected by it, who are people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

So frequently we come to this assembly and we will be asked to approve pages and pages and pages of extremely complex, but important, bits of law to do with parts of our economy, but when it comes to what turns out to be relatively simple legislation on important issues which matter very greatly to those who suffer as a result of them, we're told 'oh it's too complicated'. 

This has taken seven years to come up with two paragraphs. Something behind the scenes is wrong."

Deputy John Young then called for assurances that the States no longer uses zero-hours contracts when they aren't necessary.

"The Health department was a major user of zero-hours contracts. Don't be fobbed off with explanations of bank nurses - people who were employed in jobs on zero-hours contracts, working in hospital administration or medical secretaries who were not allowed holiday, leave or anything like that,  and could not take on other work."

The vice-chair of the States Employment Board, Constable Richard Buchanan, has promised to ask questions.

Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf then said a thorough review showed there are now no instances in the Health Department of these contracts being enforced inappropriately.

"There are many instances of course that our staff choose to work that way because it offers flexibility and that is welcomed.

I'm very grateful to them and by far and away, the majority of those workers are what we call the bank workers who will come in at short notice when asked and there's no other way of doing that really, apart from a zero-hours contract which they are happy to work to."

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