Business Secretary, Vince Cable, declared yesterday that he had ruled out the banning of ‘zero hours’ contracts as they had a place in the labour market and even though there had been evidence of abuse, they offer ‘welcome flexibility’ for some workers. He also said he wanted employers to be clearer about the agreements, so people could see what the constraints of their contracts were.
The Government is launching a 12-week consultation on zero hours contracts which includes the possibility of banning companies from imposing “exclusivity contracts” which offer no guarantee of work and stop people working for another company.
Business groups have welcomed the announcement, along with the decision against a ban, but union leaders said the Government was “desperately short on solutions” to curb the use of zero hours contracts, under which employees have no idea whether they have work on a regular basis.
In summary Mr Cable said:
“We believe they [zero contracts] have a place in today’s labour market and are not proposing to ban them outright, but we also want to make sure that people are getting a fair deal.”
“Employers’ need for flexible workforces should not be at the expense of fairness and transparency.”
“A growing number of employers and individuals today are using zero hour contracts. While for many people they offer a welcome flexibility to accommodate childcare or top up monthly earnings, for others it is clear that there has been evidence of abuse around this type of employment, which can offer limited employment rights and job security.”
“People should not be “tied to one employer” if it stopped them boosting their income when they were not earning enough to make a living.”
“Our research this summer gave us a much needed insight into both the positive and negative aspects of zero hours contracts. Our consultation will now focus on tackling the key concerns that were raised, such as exclusivity clauses and how to provide workers with more protection.”