Vince Cable rules out banning zero hours contracts
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Vince Cable rules out banning zero hours contracts

As many of the people who carry out HR jobs West Sussex and those who use HR recruitment agencies are aware, the current trend for zero hours contracts has been causing controversy of late.

These contracts mean that whilst an employee is still classed as being employed, their employer doesn’t actually need to give them any hours to work. They can work as many or as few as are needed, and whilst this might seem hugely beneficial for the business owner, they provide few benefits for the employee who has little in the way of financial stability.

However, despite the growing controversy and the criticism of companies who operate and offer these types of contract, Business Secretary Vince Cable has rule out banning them altogether.

He has, however, opened a 12 week consultation on exclusivity clauses which exist in many.

Evidence of abuse

An exclusivity clause is one which exists in zero hours contracts and prevents the employee from seeking work elsewhere. This means that, even in the event of their employer offering them the minimum of zero hours work, they are prevented from going elsewhere.

In many cases, Mr Cable explained the zero hours contracts are as beneficial for the employee as they are the employer. They offer flexibility as well as the ability for working parents to top up their earnings without a full time commitment. However, he did admit that in some cases there was “evidence of abuse”.

As a result, the twelve week consultation will aim to investigate the reasons behind these clauses, the benefits they bring to an employer and the rights they have the potential to take away from the employee. The aim, Mr Cable confirmed was to “provide workers with more protection”.

Fairness and transparency

In some reported cases, employees had had their hours removed or shifts taken away with very little or no notice given. Additionally, employees have reported being penalised if they couldn’t make themselves immediately available.

Mr Cable has said that he intends to address these claims and reports, claiming that flexibility should never “be at the expense of fairness and transparency”.

The move to investigate and potentially find an alternative solution was welcomed by the TUC who believe that any measures would be beneficial but who confirmed that they felt the government was “desperately short” of solutions. In addition, the British Chambers of Commerce warned that regulating the contracts too heavily could end up making the situation worse rather than better as jobs could be lost from businesses who can’t afford to give full time contracts.

However, despite all of the criticism, the CIPD last month conducted a survey which showed that the majority of employees with zero hour contracts were just as happy in their employment as those with full time contracts.