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pressure on Government over 'zero hours' contracts increases

16 April 2014

Since August 2013, the UK Government has been reviewing the use of 'zero-hours' contracts and consultation on this commenced in December 2013. In the meantime, Unison has been lobbying for a complete ban and a private member’s bill was presented to Parliament in January 2014, calling for the same.

We were recently advised that the Government’s consultation had concluded and expected its detailed findings to be reported shortly. It seemed that a complete ban on the contracts was highly unlikely, with suggestions that guidance would instead be issued to address concerns about the use of exclusivity clauses and transparency and that employees would be supported to seek redress for exploitation in the courts.

However, in a new development the Scottish Government published an interim report this week which concluded that the UK Government’s consultation was too narrow, addressing concerns over transparency and exclusivity clauses does nothing to prevent the kind of exploitation recently reported and that, in most cases, zero hours contracts should not be used at all.

It remains to be seen what the UK Government will do in response to increasing pressure for a ban.

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