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The number of people currently employed on zero hours contracts has risen by approximately 21% compared to the same period last year, according to a report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
The latest figures, which cover the period from April - June 2016, have been taken from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) on zero hours contracts, and show that the number of workers on zero hours contracts is 156,000 higher than for the period of April - June 2015.
According to the LFS, there are now approximately 903,000 workers on zero hours contracts, representing 2.9% of all people in employment, compared to 747,000 or 2.4% of the workforce in the same period last year.
It is likely that the increased publicity of the term 'zero hours contracts' in recent years has caused an increase in the number of people reporting to the LFS. Unfortunately, it is not possible to know the extent to wish this may have contributed to the latest increase in the official figures.
Despite the negative media coverage surrounding the prevalence of zero hours contracts, such contracts remain perfectly legal.
However, the inclusion of an exclusivity clause within a zero hours contract, preventing a worker from working with another employer, will render the contract unlawful. The use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts has been prohibited since May 2015, as these clauses have been held to be unfair and unjustified.
To avoid any exposure to potential claims, employers should ensure that they review any zero hours contracts that they may have in place (if they have not already done so), and amend them accordingly.