The possibility of a ban on exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts has been floated by business secretary Vince Cable ahead of a new 12-week consultation designed to tackle the concerns raised from a BIS fact-finding exercise over the summer.
Dr Cable was clear that he did not envisage an outright ban, as the contracts offered many people “a welcome flexibility”. The consultation will be aimed at stopping abuses of the arrangements, under which workers with limited employment rights and job security are tied exclusively to one employer while having no guarantee of earnings.
Dr Cable said: “We don’t think that people should be tied exclusively to one employer if it unfairly stops them from boosting their income when they are not getting enough work to earn a living. We also want to give employees and employers more guidance and advice on these types of employment contracts.”
APSCo’s head of external affairs, Sam Hurley, welcomed the government’s desire to retain zero-hours contracts because of the flexibility benefits they deliver, and endorsed the need for protection for vulnerable workers. While the arrangements are rare amongst Umbrella Company Employees and others in the professional contracting community, Ms Hurley added that “there are occasions where these types of contracts are useful – locum doctors or supply teachers, for example.”
PCG chairman Chris Bryce also welcomed the emphasis on preventing exploitation instead of a blanket ban, but urged the government not to confuse highly-skilled contractors who chose to work this way with vulnerable workers.
The consultation closes on 13th March 2014.