Help us to close zero hour contract loopholes, says Cable

Business Secretary Vince Cable has urged businesses, unions and individuals to help identify and close potential loopholes in plans to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

The government wants to find out whether some employers might try to get round the ban by offering contracts that could, for example, guarantee just one hour of work. The consultation is asking for views on the best ways to prevent this from happening.

It also proposes options, such as civil penalties, that could be used if workers were to be treated unfairly by their employer because they found work elsewhere while on a zero hours contract.

The consultation was launched on 25 August following an announcement in June that the government would ban the use of exclusivity clauses that prevent workers on zero hours contracts from taking work elsewhere, even when their employer provides no work.

Dr Cable said: “We are tightening the screws on rogue employers who try to abuse workers on zero hours contracts. We are looking closely at any potential loopholes that could arise from a ban, to ensure that these are closed off and no-one can get round the new law. We are also ensuring there is access to justice for workers treated unfairly.

“The evidence shows that the vast majority of zero hours contracts have been used responsibly by many businesses for many years, but unfortunately we know that some abuse does take place. This is why we are bringing in new laws to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, which currently stop employees getting other jobs if they need to top up their income.

“We want to give individuals the chance to find work that suits their individual circumstances whilst also giving employers the confidence to hire and create new jobs.”

The government also announced that business representatives and unions would work together to develop sector-specific codes of practice to help guide the fair use of zero hours contracts, and that it would help improve the information available to individuals and employers on using these contracts.

The consultation closes on 3 November.

Link: The consultation