Frances O’Grady the general secretary of the TUC, called on Vince Cable to impose tough new regulations on controversial zero hours contracts on Thursday, after he announced that his officials are conducting a review.
“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,” O’Grady said.
Employers use zero-hour contracts to keep staff on standby, without promising them any specific working hours. But the TUC has warned that young and vulnerable workers can be put at risk. The government estimates that there are as many as 200,000 of the contracts in operation across the economy, including many in the public sector, but there is little detailed data on their impact, reports The Guardian.
Officials in the department for business will review how the contracts work, and investigate whether they tend to lead to abuse.
Cable said: “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.”
He denied that BIS was planning to ban the contracts, but said: “Whilst it’s important our workforce remains flexible, it is equally important that it is treated fairly.”
O’Grady said: “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.”