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
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn