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Exclusivity ban fails to ‘adequately address’ zero-hours contracts, says Pickavance

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Measures to ban exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts fail to “adequately address” the controversial contracts and “further expose the UK’s malfunctioning employment market”, according to Grant Thornton head of brand and culture Norman Pickavance.

Pickavance, who is the former group HR and communications director of supermarket Morrisons, told HR magazine he thinks the removal of restrictive clauses is “wholly inadequate”.

“The Queen's Speech will do nothing to end a blight on the lives many ordinary working people experience as a result of zero-hours contracts, which give rise not only to financial instability and trap people into in-work poverty but also result in stress-related sickness rates up to four times higher than people who are in well-paid, secure jobs,” he said.

He added that he believes the widespread use of zero-hours contracts “is no way to build commitment or grow a skilled, confident and motivated workforce”.

On May 26, rules banning exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts came into force with the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

Pickavance, who in 2013 authored an independent review for the Labour party into how businesses use zero-hours contracts, said he worries “inconsequential legislation” will lead “many more employers to [consider] going down the zero hours route”.

“This should be a huge worry for any worker but particularly those in the retail, hospitality, health care and business service sectors,” he said.

Pickavance also cited the UK’s low productivity as a reason why he would like to see zero-hours contracts more seriously addressed.

“An economic environment that fosters insecure, low wage, low skill jobs, and fails to back innovation and investment in skills will only ever deliver anaemic economic performance,” he said.

“The UK is falling behind the rest of the G7, in terms of overall investment levels, innovative patent registration and overall productivity. It is my view that the failure to adequately address zero-hours contracts should be seen as an important part of this wider context, and as further evidence of a lack of long-term economic thinking, a major concern for any policy maker interested in UK productivity.”