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Employment groups welcome zero-hours contract measures

Business and employment groups are united in praise of plans to introduce tighter regulations around zero-hour contracts, laid out in the Queen’s speech yesterday.

The Queen announced Government plans to crack down on bad practice among employers who use the contracts, although the details still remain relatively vague.

More specific legislation is expected to be unveiled in the official response to the Department for Business’s consultation in the autumn. 

CIPD head of public policy Ben Willmott pointed to the body’s own research, which suggests zero-hours workers enjoy at least parity with other employees on job satisfaction and work/life balance. He did, however, acknowledge that tighter legislation is necessary. 

“There are significant areas of bad practice, which should be addressed,” he said. “For example, nearly half of zero-hours workers have had work cancelled on them with no notice, while a quarter say they are never or only sometimes allowed to work for another employer when their primary employer has no work available for them.”

CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall insisted the UK flexible labour market must be protected for the good of the economy, but accepted some changes to zero-hours contract law would be advantageous. 

“A ban on exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts would be a proportionate response to some of the issues that have been highlighted, as it focuses on poor practice rather than demonising flexible work in general,” she said. 

Ian Brinkley, chief economist at The Work Foundation also welcomed the announcement, as well as the move to impose tougher penalties on those who deliberately avoid paying the National Minimum Wage. He added this would help “those who are most vulnerable in the labour market”.