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TUC calls for 'tougher action' on zero hours contracts

The Trades Union Congress said the Government is "desperately short on solutions" when it comes to the use of zero hours contracts.

The growth of zero hours contracts is one of the reasons why so many hard-working people are fearful for their jobs and struggling to make ends meet, in spite of the recovery.

But while the Government has identified some of the problems faced by those with zero job security, it's desperately short on solutions to curb the use of these contracts.

Through the consultation, the TUC and unions will propose tougher action in order to tackle abuse of zero hours contracts, which can leave people not knowing how much they'll be earning from one week to the next.

– TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady

Read: Zero hours contracts 'beneficial' to some employees

Zero hours contracts 'beneficial' to some employees

Zero hours contracts can be "beneficial for students, older workers or with caring duties" according to a business chief.

John Wastnage, head of employment at the British Chambers of Commerce, welcomed Vince Cable's consultation into zero hours contracts but warned against demonising the controversial business practice.

We welcome the Government's consultation as an opportunity to ensure best practice, but without jeopardising employment opportunities.

Much of the negativity surrounding zero hours contracts misunderstands the vital role they can play in creating jobs.

For example, they can be beneficial for students, older workers or those with caring duties who don't want to be constrained by a fixed contract, and they allow employers to experiment with new services or markets.

– British Chambers of Commerce John Wastnage

Read: When is a job not a job? The rise of 'zero hours' contracts


Possible ban on 'exclusivity' in zero hours contracts

Business Secretary Vince Cable has ruled out a ban on "flexible" zero hours contracts but said that there may be a ban on exclusivity clauses that prevent employees from working elsewhere.

Vince Cable
Vince Cable does not want an outright ban on zero hours contracts. Credit: PA

The controversial business practice, where people are not guaranteed any working hours, will be put under the microscope by the business secretary in a 12-week consultation.

Mr Cable said: "A growing number of employers and individuals today are using zero hour contracts.

"While for many people they offer a welcome flexibility to accommodate childcare or top up monthly earnings, for others it is clear that there has been evidence of abuse around this type of employment which can offer limited employment rights and job security.

"We believe they have a place in today's labour market and are not proposing to ban them outright, but we also want to make sure that people are getting a fair deal."

Zero hours workers 'earn average of £500 a month'

A study of zero hours contracts by Unite the Union has found that those working on such conditions earn an average of £500 a month. A survey of 5,000 members found that the vast majority of people working such contracts did not want to continue on such terms. The study found:

  • More than one in five were on zero hours contracts
  • Workers on Zero hours contracts reported earning an average of £500 a month
  • Under-30s more likely to be on zero hours contracts - 50% of those who Unite spoke to were between 16-30
  • A third of respondents said they did not get holiday pay
  • 77% of respondents said they did not get any sick pay
  • Only one in seven said they wanted to stay on zero hours contracts

Miliband: Contract flexibility no excuse for exploitation

Labour leader Ed Miliband will outline his pledge to clamp down on the misuse of zero hours contracts In a speech to the TUC tomorrow, he is expected to say:

We need flexibility. But we must stop flexibility being used as the excuse for exploitation.

Exploitation which leaves workers carrying all of the burdens of unpredictable hours, irregular pay, no security for the future.

Of course, there are some kinds of these contracts which are useful. For doctors, or supply teachers at schools, or sometimes, young people working in bars

But you and I know that zero hours contracts have been terribly misused.

This kind of exploitation has to stop.

We will support those businesses and workers that want to get on in life. But we will ban practices which lead to people being ground down.

Unite: 5.5 million on zero hours contracts

As many as 5.5 million people could be employed on zero hours contracts, according to a survey of Unite members.

It says the "staggering" figure - five times previous estimates - show there is a "growing sub class" of insecure, low paid employees earning an average of £500 a month.

Read: Wild variations in opinion over zero hours contracts

More: Zero hours workers share their experiences


Miliband pledges to end zero-hour contracts

A Labour government would impose a crackdown on the use of zero-hours contracts by "exploitative" employers, Ed Miliband will tell the TUC conference tomorrow.

Ed Miliband will tell delegates at the TUC a Labour government would curb the use of the controversial contract. Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Mr Miliband will tell delegates that while the contracts can be useful in some cases they have been "terribly misused" in many others.

Umunna: Lack of job security bad for wider economy

Job security is vital for the wider economy and businesses, said the Shadow Business Secretary.

Labour's Chuka Umunna told Daybreak workers who did not know where the next pay check was coming from could not spend money on consumer goods, which was bad for business.

He also claimed zero-hours contracts were not used by small businesses as much as large ones.

There would be a Parliamentary debate on zero-hours contracts when the House returns in the Autumn.

TUC: Use of zero-hours contracts 'concerning'

The boom in zero-hours contracts used by major companies is "concerning" said TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady.

It's hugely concerning that zero hours contracts are becoming such a prominent feature of the labour market.

Workers on zero hours contracts are completely at the whim of their boss, who can reduce their income to nothing without warning or reason.

The Government must act to stamp out abuses of workers on zero hours contracts, before the low-pay and insecurity that they bring starts becoming the norm for new jobs.

– TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady

Umunna: 'Danger' insecure work becomes the norm

There is a "danger" controversial zero-hours contracts, which do not guarantee the employee any hours of paid work, become "the norm", said Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna.

New evidence highlights that there could be hundreds of thousands more people on zero-hours contracts than previously thought...Flexibility works for some, but the danger today is that too often insecurity at work becomes the norm.

The huge spike in the use of zero-hours contracts has brought increased reports of abuses and bad practice. There should be zero tolerance of such abuse.

That is why Labour has convened this important summit bringing together representatives of employers and employers to consider what action must be taken.

– Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna
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