jobs2Welcoming the news today (Thursday) that the government is reviewing the use of zero hours contracts, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

‘Employers know they can get away with advertising zero hours jobs because there are so many jobseekers hunting too few vacancies.
‘With the tough times set to continue, now is the perfect time for the government to be reviewing – and hopefully regulating – the increasing use of these exploitative contracts.

‘Young people desperate to gain experience of the world of work are the most vulnerable to this kind of exploitation. Anyone employed in a zero hours way can never be sure how many hours they’ll work or how much money they’ll get in their pay packet which puts a real strain on their already stretched finances and can make organising childcare a logistical nightmare.

‘The government must get tough with those employers who want to get workers on the cheap and encourage them to start employing people on proper contracts with decent wages.’

The government has announced that it is to undertake “a fact finding” exercise into zero hours contracts after reports of their abuse by employers.  Zero hours contracts is a recent type of contract under which an employer does not guarantee the employee a fixed number of hours per week. Rather, the employee is expected to be on-call and receive compensation only for hours worked.

Commenting on this, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “In the last decade, there has been a steady rise in the number of zero hours contracts. For some these can be the right sort of employment contract, giving workers a choice of working patterns. However, for a contract that is now more widely used, we know relatively little about its effect on employers and employees. There has been anecdotal evidence of abuse by certain employers – including in the public sector – of some vulnerable workers at the margins of the labour market.

“While it’s important our workforce remains flexible, it is equally important that it is treated fairly. This is why I have asked my officials to undertake some work to better understand how this type of contract is working in practice today.”