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News - 30 June 2014

Rules give workers more choice.

 Unions and campaign groups have been pressing for zero-hours contracts - under which employees' hours are not guaranteed - to be banned.

 
Business Secretary Vince Cable said they had a place in the labour market, and offered work to students and older people, but that "unscrupulous" firms had abused the flexibility offered by the contracts, but, with new rules to be introduced, employers are to be banned from stopping staff with zero-hours contracts seeking extra work elsewhere.
 
Lavinia Newman, founder of ABDS comments:
“According to the Business Department, the ban will benefit 125,000 zero-hours contract workers estimated to be tied to an exclusivity clause and will allow workers to look for additional work to boost their income.”
 
Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of the Unite union, said: "Zero hours contracts are a zero sum game for workers struggling to get by. The only winner is the employer."
 
Mr Cable also announced a consultation on how to stop rogue employers evading the ban through measures such as offering one-hour fixed contracts.
 
The Office for National Statistics recently estimated that employers held 1.4 million contracts with workers that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours.
 
Chuka Umunna, Labour's shadow business secretary, said "Zero-hours contracts, which were once a niche and marginal concept, have become the norm in parts of our economy as families have been hit by the cost-of-living crisis," he said.
 
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The ban is welcome news but it's not nearly enough to really tackle the problem. A lack of certainty is the real issue."
 
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Maintaining the UK's flexible labour market is crucial to keeping unemployment down. Zero-hours contracts are vital for a successful jobs market, but they must be fair and work for all parties.
 
The Institute of Directors said it liked the contracts because they helped ensure a "flexible work market," but added that "flexibility must work for both staff and business," and exclusivity clauses should be banned.
 
ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900 E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net
 
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