Zero-hours contract workers: give them fixed-hours employment after a year, says Resolution Foundation think tank

 

Political Editor

Workers on a zero-hours contract should be given a legal right to a fixed-hours deal after 12 months, according to an inquiry which reports today.

The recommendations from the Resolution Foundation think tank could provide the basis for action by the Government or a Labour administration if the party wins next year’s general election. Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, is reviewing the growing use of the contracts, which put workers on standby without any guaranteed minimum hours. Labour has promised to give such employees greater protection.

Between 600,000 and 1 million workers are believed to be covered by the contracts and the foundation offers the first set of detailed proposals on the issue.

Today’s inquiry rejected calls by some trade unions for a ban on the controversial contracts, saying that many employers, and some workers, like the flexibility they offer. But it found “clear signs of abuse” by bosses and proposed a package of reforms to give employees more security. The key one is a legal right to switch to a part-time fixed-hours contract if someone has worked regular shifts for at least 12 months and their work pattern has been “relatively consistent.”

Other ideas from the foundation include:

  • A ban on “exclusivity clauses” in zero-hours contracts, to stop employers preventing people on them from working elsewhere
  • Workers on zero-hours contracts should receive a clear statement of their terms of employment
  • The Government should enforce these workers’ rights more strongly and deter abuse by employers
  • A good practice guide should be agreed by employers and unions.

The independent think tank, which specialises in the problems faced by people on low and middle incomes, called for local authorities to scale back their use of zero hours contracts in social care. It proposed that councils commission care work by outcomes rather than time slots, after criticism that some care workers are not paid for travel time between home visits.

According to the inquiry, it is too soon to judge whether the recent growth in the use of zero-hours contracts has been driven by the economic downturn or is a permanent feature of the labour market.

Vidhya Alakeson, the joint author of the report and the foundation’s deputy chief executive, said: “The argument that nothing can be done to address the inappropriate use of zero-hours contracts is as unconvincing as that which says that they should just be banned outright. These proposals strike a balance, keeping the flexibility that some people value and adding far more security and clarity for workers. With these practical steps and an effort to develop good practice among employers, it should be possible to protect the rights and conditions of workers without limiting the flexibility of firms.”

She added: “Not all firms misuse zero-hours contracts and a few staff even prefer them but it’s clear there’s substantial abuse of these contracts which affects a significant minority of the workforce. In particular, there is no justification for keeping a regular worker on a zero-hours contract for more than a year.”

Ms Alakeson said: “We single out the care sector for particular attention because this is where it will be hardest to reduce the use of zero-hours contracts but also the place where their use is most entrenched and where their impact on vulnerable workers and care recipients is most worrying.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing