Business groups urge further action on zero-hours contracts

Published:

Leading voices in business have praised Vince Cable's plan to ban exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts, although some have criticised the business secretary's decision not to introduce further legislation.

KPMG UK head of facilities Guy Stallard welcomed the decision to allow all zero-hours workers to work for more than one employer, saying it is a step towards ending the cycle of "working poverty". However, he advised employers to pay the living wage to improve engagement.

"A guaranteed income, and one that will ensure they don’t need to worry about paying their rent or food bills, is more likely to build the loyalty and motivation that drives the quality of service customers want to see," he said.

ASPCo's head of external relations Samantha Hurley said she supported the actions of the business secretary and praised his decision not to introduce stricter measures.

"This would have negatively impacted some sectors, such as teaching, where workers often want the flexibility zero-hours contracts provide," she said.

Sally Bridge, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) assistant secretary of the National Agency Team, argued the Government is only addressing "a very small part" of the wider issues in the labour force.

"The Government is missing a trick as these plans only tinker with what is a growing problem," she said. "We need to see employers offering workers guarantees over a minimum number of hours. This will provide much needed security and allows workers to know where they stand."

DLA Piper employment partner Pattie Walsh warned that implementation of the ban might be tricky from a legal standpoint.

"Any restriction relating to the use of zero-hours contracts could be circumvented by employers offering one-hour fixed contracts with additional flexible hours," she said.

"But any attempt to define a minimum level of guaranteed hours below which restrictions will apply risks undermining the inherent flexibility of this type of contract."