ZERO HOURS CONTRACTS: Gwynne backs new Labour plans

zero_hour_cloc_450Andrew Gwynne MP has backed Labour’s plan for the next government to end the use of exploitative zero hour contracts across the United Kingdom.

Speaking in Motherwell, after earlier chairing a Glasgow meeting of the Shadow Cabinet, Ed Miliband declared that Labour’s measures on zero hours contracts are further evidence that social justice can be better achieved by Scotland remaining in the UK.

He revealed the findings of the independent Pickavance Review into how to help employers compete on higher wages, skills and productivity – rather than on exploitative zero hours contracts.

Mr Miliband said he expects Labour’s manifesto for the next General Election to adopt key recommendations from the report.

These include giving new legal rights to employees on zero hours contracts:

  • To demand a fixed hours contract when they have worked regular hours over six months with the same employer
  • To receive a fixed hours contract automatically when they have worked regular hours over a year – unless they decide to opt out
  • To be protected from employers forcing them to be available at all hours, insisting they cannot work for anyone else, or cancelling shifts at short notice without compensation.

His announcement underlines Labour’s commitment to improve living standards and help businesses build a more productive, successful economy across the UK.

Andrew Gwynne MP said:

“Tackling zero hours contracts will form a central part of Labour’s plan for the economy. It is crucial for developing an economy in which employers and employees respect one another and workers can be assured that they have a steady income.

“I am very happy to back Ed Miliband’s announcement today. It is so important that we send the Tories a message in the local elections in May that we will not put up with them taking away even more rights for workers.”

Ed Miliband MP said:

“Zero hour contracts have spread like an epidemic across our economy. Sometimes, they can provide short term flexibility for employers and employees alike. But we know most employers don’t use them and for good reasons: the widespread use of zero-hours contracts is incompatible with building a loyal, skilled and productive workforce.

“And we also know a minority of employers are misusing zero hours contracts as a crude way of cutting costs or managing staff. It has left too many people not knowing how they will make ends meet from one week to the next, and unable to plan for the future.

“We’ll put that right by ensuring employees who have worked regular hours get a regular contract. And by banning the worst abuses of the system like people being required to be on call all hours of the day for one employer without any guarantee of work.

Norman Pickavance said:

“All the evidence shows that engaging your people, developing them and paying them fairly is the best way to deliver long term business productivity. My recommendations will support those companies already on this path and will ensure that those which are lagging behind make the necessary changes in their employment practices.

“My review recognises that for some people, like those in semi-retirement or students fitting work between studies, these contracts can provide just the kind of flexibility they are looking for. The problem is these arrangements are wide open to abuse. My recommendations will retain the flexibility that some individuals are looking for but will remove the abuse.

“I have been particularly concerned that zero hour contracts are being applied extensively to young people who have recently entered the workforce. We need to do more to ensure that people at the beginning of their working lives get the right training, experience and opportunity. These contracts, by their very nature, do not provide the long term commitment necessary to support young people in the right way, which is why my recommendations will limit their usage.”

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