Government to review Zero Hours Contracts

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Vince Cable plans to review the practice of zero hours contracts, in the light of concerns over possible abuse by employers.

Zero hours contracts

Under a typical zero hours contract, the employer does not guarantee any minimum amount of work. The individual works on a flexible, “as and when required” basis.

Individuals who work on zero hours contracts are generally regarded as “casual workers”, and their employment status and rights can sometimes be unclear.

There is evidence that zero hours contracts are becoming more popular. From an employer’s perspective, a zero hours arrangement can provide important flexibility. The introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 has made it more burdensome to use agency workers to cover peaks and troughs of demand. Engaging casual workers directly can be an attractive alternative.

Possible abuse?

However, the TUC has called for the practice of zero hours contracts to be outlawed, and has argued that employees should have minimum hours as well as a minimum wage. They point in particular to difficulties in claiming benefits during periods of no work.

Government review

Vince Cable recently commented that there was anecdotal evidence of abuse of zero hours contracts by employers, but acknowledged that the government know very little about these arrangements and how they work in practice. He has asked his officials to undertake a review.

Do you use zero hours contracts?

EEF would like to gather evidence about the usage of zero hours contracts in the manufacturing sector. If you use zero hours contracts, we would like to talk to you about how they work in practice, the reason you introduced them and the benefits and problems associated with them.

Please get in touch with your EEF adviser, or contact Verity O’Keefe, Employment and Skills Policy Adviser at vokeefe@eef.org.uk

Click here for a full report in the Independent.

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