Government plans ban on exclusive 'zero hours' contracts – but stops short of outlawing completely

Move follows growing criticism of the controversial contracts, which do not ensure a minimum number of hours

A ban on  exclusive “zero hours” contracts, which prevent people working elsewhere even when they have no guarantee of work, is planned by the Government.

The move follows a review by Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary,  after growing criticism of the controversial contracts, which do not ensure a minimum number of hours.

Mr Cable will not bow to demands by some trade unions for all zero hours contracts to be outlawed.  He believes that many people want the freedom to be employed on such a basis. But he accepts that workers need “more protection” and thinks that “exclusivity clauses” are unfair because they stop people topping up their low earnings by taking on other offers of work.

The Business Secretary 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.”

Mr Cable will on Thursday launch a 12-week public consultation exercise on whether he should ban exclusivity clauses. Feedback from employers during his review  suggested that there could be abuses of the present system. He also plans to issue employers and employees more guidance about zero hours contracts after it emerged that many workers did not know they were on them or realise they would not be offered a regular amount  of work.

Mr Cable said: “While for many people they offer a welcome flexibility to accommodate childcare or top up monthly earnings, for others it is clear that there has been evidence of abuse around this type of employment which can offer limited employment rights and job security.”

Unions will urge the Government to go further. Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, said: “The growth of zero hours contracts is one of the reasons why so many hard-working people are fearful for their jobs and struggling to make ends meet, in spite of the recovery.  But while the Government has identified some of the problems faced by those with zero job security, it’s desperately short on solutions to curb the use of these contracts.”

Mick Rix, national officer of the GMB union, said: "This snails-pace reaction to what is clearly an urgent problem will not bring any Christmas cheer to exploited low paid workers on zero hour contracts and similar contracts offering employment insecurity. It is regrettable that the Government is not outlawing the use of zero hour contracts even though it admits there is abuse."

The British Chambers of Commerce warned that excessive regulation of the contracts could cost jobs. John Wastnage, its head of employment, said: “They can be beneficial for students, older workers or those with caring duties who don’t want to be constrained by a fixed contract. And they allow employers to experiment with new services or markets.”

Tim Thomas, head of employment at the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said: “We are glad to see the Government has resisted a heavy handed approach to zero hours contracts. Focusing on a limited number of areas allows best practice examples of their use to continue.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Manager is required to join the m...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Mobile - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Unified - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: Trade Sales Consultant - Furniture

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a besp...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum