Interesting to hear the Business Secretary Vince Cable discuss zero hours contracts on Radio 4 this morning. It is estimated that 1 million people are employed on this type of contract – which has come in for a great deal of criticism over recent months. The government is now launching a 12 week consultation on this, which might lead to new legislation by the end of this Parliament.
Cable made some interesting points. First, many employees on this type of contract are entirely happy with them. Second, many of the criticisms were based on employment malpractice, rather than a feature of the contracts themselves (for instance not paying employees for the time they spent travelling from one task to another). And finally, that one feature in particular may need to be addressed, namely that some employees are expected to work exclusively for an employer, even if that employer cannot guarantee how many hours they will work for.