Bill looking to ban zero-hours contracts moves a step closer

A bill seeking to ban zero-hours contacts and bolster workers’ rights is to come before parliament for a second reading next week.

Bill sponsor Chris Stephens, MP for Glasgow South West, said the Workers (Definition and Rights) Bill 2017-19 would bring some clarity to the definition of a “worker” in light of recent Supreme Court judgments, and provide greater protection from the first day of a person’s employment.

As well as banning the use of zero-hours contracts, it would also provide more safeguards to those in “precarious” work, such as the hospitality sector.

The bill is due to receive its second reading in the House of Commons on 19 January.

Ahead of its first reading in October, Stephens said the bill went beyond the recommendations made in the Taylor Review of modern employment practices last year, which suggested that workers on zero-hours contracts should have a right to request a contract that guarantees their hours after 12 months in post.

He claimed the Taylor Review, which has advised that zero-hours contracts should not be banned, “gave more weight to the interests of consumers and employers” than to workers’ interests.

He told MPs before the bill’s first reading: “The clear implication is that full-time secure employment with rights, a pension and clearly defined hours is an outdated 20th-century concept, instead of the peak of a hard-fought struggle to redress the balance between employer and employee—or, at its most extreme, exploiter and exploited.”

“The time has come to secure legislation that uses the court judgments to clarify the nature and status of workers today.”

However, employment lawyer John Hayes of Constantine Law said it would be difficult to enforce a ban on zero-hours contracts. He said the Taylor Review’s recommendation of a “pay premium” on the national minimum wage or national living wage for companies that wish to retain a flexible workforce would be more suitable.

“This passes the commercial risk for contingent working from the worker (where it currently sits) to the employer. In short, employers reliant [on] highly flexible workforces will have to pay more, per hour, for labour,” Hayes said.

According to Herald Scotland, Stephens believes certain workers’ rights, such as protections against workers being asked to work more than an average of 48 hours a week,  will be lost when the UK leaves the EU unless MPs pass new legislation. Stephens said it was “frustrating to have the sense of the clock being turned back to Victorian standards of employment”.

8 Responses to Bill looking to ban zero-hours contracts moves a step closer

  1. Avatar
    Jane 10 Oct 2018 at 12:42 pm #

    I think zero hour contracts should be illegal. This is a modern form of slavery.
    I plead to those in power to prevent more and more people being exploited.

  2. Avatar
    Shaun 15 Jan 2019 at 8:54 pm #

    I agree they can get rid of people as and when. They won’t by reducing the hours to make people look for work elsewhere. I’m still working but have seen it happen where I work even though the employee has done nothing wrong

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    Paul Cochrane 6 Feb 2019 at 5:46 pm #

    Where I work, we are treated no better than slaves, we’re treated like sh*t. They just call you 10 mins before a shift to cancel you, or even when you arrive after spending money to get to work. Zero hours should be wiped off the face of the planet. Ahh and the boss thinks he is a God when he talked too. Even bragging how he makes women cry

  4. Avatar
    Maria Dixon 8 Feb 2019 at 11:56 am #

    I have 10-hr contract but work 20 hrs or more. It is so when I take holiday which I must, 5wks, I only get paid for 10hrs.

    It’s all wrong so the rich get richer.

    It also means even though I work I’m hounded by universal credit to keep job searching and in my weeks off I have to spend more hours looking for more work rather than enjoying a holiday with children.

  5. Avatar
    Amy Tuckwell 28 Feb 2019 at 12:11 pm #

    I work a 0 hour contact and right now I’m only getting one day a week or where they message me about 30 minutes before a shift to be picked up to go. Then they cancel me only minutes before I set off for work. Now I’ve learned to message my work before I even get ready so I know that it’s continued. I wish they had a set amount of hours to pay bills. I’m on Universal Credit just in case I end up getting screwed over and can’t pay my bills.

  6. Avatar
    Carmen 20 Jun 2019 at 6:43 pm #

    I hate zero hour contracts. The employer treats you like a slave, send you home whenever and, in my case, text you in the morning telling you they don’t need you. Last month I brought home less than £1000. I have bills to pay and sometimes can’t meet them, and I get no help from universal credit.

  7. Avatar
    Irrah Harri 20 Sep 2019 at 10:46 am #

    I work for a reputable Cornish company who have introduced zero hours. I work as an assistant manager when they need me doing 54-60 hours a week then 2 five hour shifts the next!
    When renting a home they do not accept zero hours contract, I need to feed and clothe myself and pay bills so how do you do that in the 20th century when you are being taken advantage of in the workplace?
    I have been homeless three times and can’t get help as I am not on benefits drugs/ alcohol and do not have special needs, but a special need is a right to have a home, the right to put food on the table and a right to pay your bills!
    The food bank has been there to help and I am working. This is hell, never knowing from week to week where you stand.
    I know there are plenty more people in my situation and it’s time we have the respect owed to us.

  8. Avatar
    A jabbar 8 Mar 2020 at 9:17 am #

    Please please can they abolish this zero hour contract. Currently I am on a zero hour contract trying to make ends meet. Sometimes when I turned up to work they send me home no guaranteed work and also they cancel my shifts. If there are no guaranteed work there is no guarantee I will pay my bills. I have lived on cheap crisp sandwiches trying to save the pennies. I wear the same clothes day in and day out drive a cheap ancient car. All this because of zero hours. It’s a big struggle. I struggle to pay bills what’s worse every bill is gone up. Making it even harder to pay. So therefore no more watching tv. And no more putting the heater on.

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