Last reviewed 12 May 2022

Following a public consultation carried out by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Government has decided to widen the ban on exclusivity clauses, removing red tape and giving the lowest paid workers the choice to work multiple jobs if they so wish.

In its response to the feedback from the consultation, available here, the Government highlights that new reforms will ensure around 1.5 million low-paid workers are not subject to exclusivity clauses.

In 2015, exclusivity clauses were banned for workers on zero-hours contracts, where employers are not obliged to provide any minimum working hours and the worker is not obliged to accept any work offered.

The new proposals will widen the ban on exclusivity clauses, which restrict staff from working for multiple employers, to contracts where the guaranteed weekly income is on or below the Lower Earnings Limit of £123 a week.

Business Minister Paul Scully said: “By extending the ban on exclusivity clauses, we are putting more control into the hands of the lowest paid, giving them the freedom to decide who they work for and how often, including the option to top up their pay packet if they wish.”

While not everyone will want a second job, he went on, the reforms will remove red tape that prevents those who want to do so — for example, gig economy workers, younger people, or those from disadvantaged backgrounds facing barriers to entering the labour market.

The Minister argues that by giving more workers the option to take on additional work on short hours contracts, the reforms could also help increase businesses’ confidence to create jobs with contracts which suit them and their current circumstances.

He has confirmed that legislation for these reforms will be laid before Parliament later this year.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Businesses can benefit from a wider talent pool of applicants who may have previously been discouraged from applying for available roles due to an existing exclusivity clause with another employer.

This will help combat staff shortages in key industries, such as retail and hospitality.

Therefore, the approach will be a win-win situation from employees and employers alike, as both will be able to benefit from increased flexibility and a better range of employment opportunities.