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UK – Recruiters welcome review into zero hour contracts

17 June 2013

The Government is planning to review so-called zero hour contracts which put employees on standby and do not guarantee a minimum amount of work, Business Secretary Vince Cable recently announced. The move has now been given approval by recruiters.

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) supports the review of these controversial contracts which have rapidly been on the increase and have been embraced by both blue collar and white collar employers as flexible forms of labour.

“Vince Cable is right to look into zero-hours contracts and we look forward to seeing his conclusions,” said APSCo today. “According to the British Labour Force Survey, the number of people on these types of contracts rose by 25% in 2012. An increase in flexible working per se should not be seen in a negative light, but it’s crucial that we find a balance between the need for flexibility and fairness for vulnerable workers.”

The organisation welcomed the Government’s ambition to better understand the nature of demand in the flexible labour market. “We have long called for more work in this area and we expect the output will be a valuable asset for policy making on employment,” it said.

This comes after Mr Cable last week criticised the use of zero hour contracts, which he believes are abused by some employers. He told The Independent: “In the past decade, there has been a steady rise in the number of zero-hour contracts. For some these can be the right sort of employment contract, giving workers a choice of working patterns.

“However, for a contract that is now more widely used, we know relatively little about its effect on employers and employees. There has been anecdotal evidence of abuse by certain employers – including in the public sector – of some vulnerable workers at the margins of the labour market.

“While it’s important our workforce remains flexible, it is equally important that it is treated fairly. This is why I have asked my officials to undertake some work to better understand how this type of contract is working in practice today.”

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