Ministers to clamp down on zero hour abuse

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THE Government is asking unions and businesses to help close any loopholes in plans to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

Ministers said they wanted to discover if “unscrupulous” employers might try to find a way of avoiding the ban by offering just one hour of work.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “We are tightening the screws on rogue employers who try to abuse workers on zero hour contracts.

“We are looking closely at any potential loopholes that could arise from a ban, to ensure that these are closed off and no one can get round the new law. We are also ensuring there is access to justice for workers treated unfairly.

“The evidence shows that the vast majority of zero-hour contracts have been used responsibly by many businesses for many years, but unfortunately we know that some abuse does take place.

“This is why we are bringing in new laws to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, which currently stop employees getting other jobs if they need to top up their income.

“We want to give individuals the chance to find work that suits their individual circumstances whilst also giving employers the confidence to hire and create new jobs”.

The Government also announced that business representatives and unions will work together to draw up codes of practice to help guide the fair use of zero hours contracts.

The coalition has responded to calls for zero hours contracts to be outlawed, by planning to ban exclusivity clauses, under which employers prevent people from working for someone else.

A recent study estimated that over 620,000 workers are employed on a zero hours contract, which do not guarantee work from one week to the next.

Manufacturers’ organisation EEF said such contracts provide much-needed workplace flexibility and warned against a ban.

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