Ban on exclusivity clauses: how to manage staff who work multiple jobs

  • Employment Contract
James Potts - Legal Services Director at Peninsula

James Potts, Legal Services Director

(Last updated )

Last month, the government announced it was widening the ban on exclusivity clauses to help the lowest earners of society top up their income. Which means your staff may now have the right to work multiple jobs when they didn’t before…

The reform will go before Parliament later this year and begs the questions: will this change affect you? And what are the health risks and legal implications for staff who take on secondary work?

Here’s what you need to know about the update…

What’s changed?

Previously, the government banned the use of exclusivity clauses in zero-hour contracts. This meant that anyone on a zero-hour contract could work multiple jobs as a way of boosting their income. Now, the government has extended this ban to those who earn on or below £123 a week.

£123 a week is the lower earnings limit, which employees need to be eligible for other payments like maternity and sick pay.

If you have staff who fall within or under this threshold, be aware that they’ll be able to take on other work even if you’d rather they didn’t. This means for staff who work multiple jobs, there might be:

  • a conflict of interest – staff might have interests and loyalties that conflict with your company and if they work for a competitor, there’s a risk they might share company secrets
  • workplace injuries – staff may experience fatigue alongside mental and physical stress, making them more vulnerable to injury
  • burnout and poor performance – staff may burn out from exhaustion which may mean they underperform and make mistakes at work that cost the company
  • legal risk – most workers cannot work more than 48 hours a week by law, so if they end up working more hours than they should, you could end up in legal trouble

To avoid these risks, you should…

1. Lay out your expectations

Your staff may have the right to work multiple jobs, but this doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to it. If staff are tired from overworking, they’re more likely to underperform, make mistakes and suffer from health issues.

To minimise risk, it’s important to be upfront about your expectations of staff when you hire them. In their contract, you should outline their working hours and request they tell you if they take on other work. Once staff agree to the terms of your contract, they should fulfil those terms.

So, if they do struggle to carry out their contractual responsibilities because of working multiple jobs, you have a right to sit down with them and see what changes you need to make.

2. Include a restrictive covenant in your contracts

You might worry that staff could share confidential company information if they work for a competitor. To prevent this, include a restrictive covenant clause in your contract. In plain English, this is a statement that bans staff from sharing confidential information or restricts who else they can work for.

In your restrictive covenant, you should include:

  • the type of work you’re restricting
  • the length of time the restriction applies
  • any additional specific requirements

A restrictive covenant clause should suit your unique business needs. To rid yourself of risk and doubt, it’s best to get your contracts and staff handbooks amended by employment law consultants. They’ll draft up legally-binding clauses that keep you safe and successful.

3. Comply with employment law

Staff cannot legally work more than 48 hours per week. Some jobs are not covered under these regulations or have exceptions to the rule, such as:

  • ambulance workers
  • firefighters
  • prison staff
  • off-shore workers (the limit is 52 hours)
  • security guards
  • caretakers
  • jobs that need someone to work longer hours i.e. agriculture, hospitals, the media, transport services, etc.
  • adult domestic servants in private households
  • people who dictate their own hours i.e. company directors, the self-employed

However, most staff can’t work above this limit. This means the collective number of hours they work across all their jobs must be no more than 48 hours. So, if these regulations do apply to your staff and you suspect they might exceed their weekly limit, you have two options:

  • Ask them to sign an opt out agreement – if someone wants to work more than 48 hours a week, they can opt out of the weekly limit. It’s best practice to have this agreement in writing and a worker can cancel it at any time (but they need to provide notice). 
  • Reduce their hours – if staff are exceeding the weekly limit, you can negotiate reducing their hours. If they agree, you’ll need to update the terms and conditions of their contract. Alternatively, you could request staff to reduce their hours in their other jobs.

4. Regularly check in

It’s reasonable to expect your staff to fulfil their duties. If they sign a contract, they’re agreeing to work the hours and carry out the responsibilities you’ve set. So, if you’re worried about staff performance or wellbeing, it might be a good idea to arrange regular check-ins.

This will help you keep an eye on their performance and also gives them an opportunity to say if they’re struggling to handle the workload or working hours.

If you keep checking in to make sure your staff are okay and offer support where necessary, they’re more likely to be successful in their role. If you’ve outlined what you expect of staff, taken steps to support them and they continue to underperform, then you might have to take disciplinary action.

Need HR advice?

If your staff are working multiple jobs, it’s important to have complete transparency between you. Otherwise, there are risks to the safety of your workers, the confidentiality of your information, and your compliance with the law. To find out how to manage staff and avoid these risks, get advice from a HR expert today.

Or, if you need to update your staff contracts, get support from documentation specialists who’ll do the job for you. Let your staff know what you expect of them and stay safe from legal risk – with no added burden.

Or if you’re not yet a Peninsula client, get a quote today to start accessing unlimited HR support.

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