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MP welcomes action on zero hours contracts

June 26, 2014 3:38 PM

TF KendalSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has welcomed action to help workers on zero-hour contracts.

Employees on zero hours contracts will have the freedom to find work with more than one employer after Business Secretary Vince Cable announced plans to ban exclusivity clauses.

Exclusivity clauses prevent an individual from working for another employer, even when no work is guaranteed. The use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts undermines choice and flexibility for the individuals concerned.

The ban, set to benefit the 125,000 zero hours contract workers estimated to be tied to an exclusivity clause, is part of a bid to clamp down on abuses in the workplace by less scrupulous employers. It will allow workers to look for additional work to boost their income.

Tim said: "This announcement by Vince Cable is very welcome news. Zero hour contracts do help some people who need flexibility like students or parents but for others they can feel like a constant trap. I hope this announcement will make a big difference. But this is not the end, it is a welcome first step but I will keep pushing to support people and give them the help they need."

Business Secretary Vince Cable added: "Zero hours contracts have a place in today's labour market. They offer valuable flexible working opportunities for students, older people and other people looking to top up their income and find work that suits their personal circumstances."

But it has become clear that some unscrupulous employers abuse the flexibility that these contracts offer to the detriment of their workers. Yesterday, we are legislating to clamp down on abuses to ensure people get a fair deal."

This action follows a government consultation into zero hours contracts which received over 36,000 responses. 83% were in favour of banning exclusivity clauses in zero hours contacts.

The Business Secretary also announced that the government will:

  • consult further on how to prevent rogue employers evading the exclusivity ban, for example through offering 1 hour fixed contracts
  • work with business representatives and unions to develop a code of practice on the fair use of zero hours contracts by the end of the year (2014)
  • work with stakeholders to review existing guidance and improve information available to employees and employers on using these contracts