Countdown to zero hours contracts review findings in autumn

Officials from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will make a decision this autumn as to what further action it might take on zero hours contracts, following newly-announced investigations into the matter.

Tue, 18 Jun 2013Officials from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will make a decision this autumn as to what further action it might take on zero hours contracts, following newly-announced investigations into the matter.

Last week, business secretary Vince Cable said he asked his officials “to undertake some work to better understand how this type of contract is working in practice today”.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) stresses to Recruiter that it is too early to suggest what action if any might be taken, until the department has had the chance to “build an evidence base”.

“We don’t know what the situation is at the moment,” the spokesperson says, adding that following this research, a decision on possible next steps will be made in the autumn.

Under the controversial, and increasingly commonplace, contracts – described as “exploitative” by TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady – workers are employed by a company but not guaranteed any work, and asked to accept work as and when it becomes available.

Cable notes: “For some these can be the right sort of employment contract, giving workers a choice of working patterns. However, for a contract that is now more widely used, we know relatively little about its effect on employers and employees.

“There has been anecdotal evidence of abuse by certain employers – including in the public sector – of some vulnerable workers at the margins of the labour market.”
 
In April, Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham suggested the party might put a ban on such contracts as part of its manifesto for the next UK general election.

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