A campaign against the controversial zero hours contracts will be taken to Parliament by a North MP.
Ian Mearns, who represents the Gateshead constituency for Labour, is proposing a private members’ bill on Friday in the House of Commons in a bid to end the contracts.
He says that the contracts erode workers’ rights and that businesses need to take more responsibility.
The MP’s bill will require employers to treat zero hours contract workers on the same basis as comparable workers on regular working hours contracts.
It would also allow zero hour contract workers who have been employed for 12 weeks to receive a contract for fixed and regular hours and employers to give reasonable notice.
It would mean that if a shift is cancelled with less than 72 hours’ notice then the employee will be paid in full.
The bill would also see that exclusivity clauses are banned so workers would be free to seek additional employment.
It comes as Labour makes wages and zero hours contracts central to their General Election campaign.
> Only because there’s a general election ? Although its good to see some movement on this, its hardly a new problem. It’d be better if things were done because they’re the right things to do, rather than because there’s an election looming. Still, you have to take what you can get…
It also comes just days after leader Ed Miliband took aim at retailer Sports Direct for their use of what he called the “exploitative contracts”.
Labour claims 17,000 of Sports Direct’s 20,000 UK staff are not guaranteed regular hours.
In response the company has said it was reviewing some of its employment procedures.
Defenders of the contracts say they offer employees flexibility.
Ian Mearns said:
“It is downright scandalous and unreasonable for companies such as Sports Direct to employ regular staff on zero hours contracts.
“Zero hours contracts are supposed to be for short-term or seasonal work, but it is clear that they are being used by unscrupulous employers who seem to think that we still live in Victorian times to dodge their responsibilities towards their staff.
“If the Government is serious about wanting to tackle in-work poverty and job insecurity then they will back my Bill to ban the abuse of zero hours contracts this Friday.”
The bill will be debated by MPs on Friday.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 18 Nov 2014
Leading law firm, Thompson Solicitors, has slammed ‘exploitative’ zero-hours contracts and the coalition government’s “sham” consultation exercise into the use of the controversial employment contracts.
Thompsons Solicitors say zero-hours contracts provide no guarantee of work and can trap people into working for a single employer with ‘exclusivity’ clauses.
People trapped on zero-hours contracts have no idea how many hours they will be required to complete. Consequently, employees have no clear indication on how much they will be paid from week to week.
The law firm say the contracts prevent parents from planning family activities, and organising childcare, because zero-hours employees can be called into work at a moments notice on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. This widespread ‘exploitation’ which ‘gives people no choice’ needs to be tackled, say Thompsons.
Responding to the consultation, Thomsons said that ‘exclusivity clauses’, which prevent zero-hours employees from working elsewhere, should be banned entirely. Not all zero-hours contracts include exclusivity clauses.
They also say that all zero-hours contracts should provide the same ‘basic employment rights’ already included in other contractual arrangements.
Workers should also be able to demand a “traditional contract” after a set period on a zero-hours contract. Thompsons claim that this right could be ‘introduced under the Part-time Workers Directive‘.
Zero-hours employees “on call” should also be protected by existing National Minimum Wage Legislation, which Thompsons say would help discourage employers from exploiting workers.
Thompsons Chief Executive Stephen Cavalier said:
“People on zero hours contracts have no guaranteed income and no certainty of when or whether they will be working. They cannot plan their lives, organise childcare or take on commitments. They are forced to accept zero hours contracts on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. They have no real choice. It is exploitation that needs to be tackled.
“There should be zero tolerance of these exploitative contracts; abuses should be tackled. The government should outlaw zero hours contracts which tie workers to an employer with no guarantee of either work or pay.
“These five measures for reform will put an end to the abuse of zero hours contracts and, if implemented, would be a real signal from the government that they are taking low paid workers and their families seriously.
“There are too many families in the UK living below the poverty line. For the first time, more than half of those in poverty in the UK are working families. Unless urgent action is taken to tackle zero hours contracts, that situation will only get worse.”
Source – Welfare News Service, 19 May 2014