Vince Cable, the UK Business Secretary offers support to zero hours contracts by stating that they have a place in today’s business. The frowned upon zero hours contracts will not be banned despite many calling for them to be abolished. The Business Secretary believes they offer both workers and employees flexibility. Mr Cable says that he believes they have a place in our economy despite there being staggering evidence of their abuse.
He however made a proposal for a 12-week consultation period to take place in which the subject of banning companies from signing up its workers to “exclusivity contracts” will be discussed. Such contracts have often been abused when there is no job or prospect of future job but yet prevent workers from exploiting opportunities elsewhere.
Several business groups and lobby groups have warmed to the proposal, however several of the union leaders believe that the government is short on solutions as to how to resolve the problem of the zero hours contracts and appear desperate. The unions are too against the existing contracts which keep workers in the blind as to how many hours a week they are to work from week to week working on a call up basis.
The Business Secretary stated that the number of such contracts used by businesses is on the rise and the fact that they can be abused should not shadow the great flexibility they provide for people who have childcare arrangements to accommodate for on a weekly basis or for those who wish to top up monthly earnings. Mr Cable when on to state his stance by saying that he has no intention to support a proposal for the ban of the contracts. However, he proposes that he will work on people getting the best out of zero hour contracts as well as being fairly treated. The proposed consultation is due to focus on the exclusivity clauses as well as increasing worker protection.
The Secretary stated that a change in the law is not set to take place due to the fact that flexible workers are a key to some employers and their businesses as well as the fact that people need to have a choice as to their working arrangements.
John Wastnage, head of employment at the British Chambers of Commerce, stated that the value of zero hour contracts is undermined and its appreciation is often not publicised enough, with the exact knowledge on how they work commonly being lacked by those who are quick to criticise them.