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GMB On Zero Hours Contracts

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Zero Hour Contracts Are Only Part Of The Problem With Precarious Employment And Irregular Work Patterns Warns GMB

Need to widen the scope of consultation to other workers who are also being abused and are being employed on hours below the perceived norm for part time workers says GMB

GMB responded to the announcement that Ministers are to consider outlawing exclusivity on zero hours contracts. See notes to editors for copy of Department for Business, Innovation and Skills press releases of 19th December 2013.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer, said “This snails-pace reaction to what is clearly an urgent problem will not bring any Christmas cheer to exploited low paid workers on zero hour contracts and similar contracts offering employment insecurity.

GMB will take part in this consultation. However it is regrettable that the Government is not outlawing the use of zero hour contracts. The government admits that there is abuse of zero hour contracts.

However zero hour contracts are only part of the problem with today's precarious employment and irregular work patterns. GMB call on government to widen the scope of its consultation to take into account other workers who are also being abused and are being employed on hours below the perceived norm for part time workers.

There is also a growing contingent of workers, on temporary contracts and as agency staff working at the same place of work for years, who do not have a permanent contract or proper hours of work.

Work should pay. However we are seeing is a race to the bottom for many employees in a number of companies such as Amazon and Next.”


Contact  Mick Rix GMB National Officer 07971  268 343 or Kamaljeet Jandu 07956 237178 or  GMB press office 07921 289880

Notes to editors

Press release from BIS 19 DECEMBER 2013


Companies could be banned from imposing exclusivity on zero hours contracts which offer no guarantee of work and stop employees from working for another company under new proposals announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable, as part of efforts to boost fairness for workers.

In a consultation launched today, the Government will also outline proposals on ways to tackle lack of transparency in the way zero hours contracts are currently being used and improve guidance for both employers and employees around zero hours contracts.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“A growing number of employers and individuals today are using zero hour contracts. While for many people they offer a welcome flexibility to accommodate childcare or top up monthly earnings, for others it is clear that there has been evidence of abuse around this type of employment which can offer limited employment rights and job security. We believe they have a place in today’s labour market and are not proposing to ban them outright, but we also want to make sure that people are getting a fair deal. 

“Our research this summer gave us a much needed insight into both the positive and negative aspects of zero hours contracts. Our consultation will now focus on tackling the key concerns that were raised, such as exclusivity clauses and how to provide workers with more protection. We don’t think that people should be tied exclusively to one employer if it unfairly stops them from boosting their income when they are not getting enough work to earn a living. We also want to give employees and employers more guidance and advice on these types of employment contracts.

“Employers need flexible workforces and people should have the choice in how they work. But this shouldn't be at the expense of fairness and transparency.”

The 12 week public consultation will seek views on a range of proposals including:

Proposals to potentially ban the use of exclusivity clauses in contracts that offer no guarantee of work

New advice and guidance to improve transparency around the use of zero hours contracts for employers and employees

The launch of the consultation follows a fact-finding exercise that was carried out over the summer by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to explore how these contracts are currently being used. 

The consultation will run until March.

Note to editors

1) A copy of the consultation document can be found on BIS website.                               

2) The BIS review conducted over the summer highlighted a range of concerns of including:


This is where someone agrees to a contract that does not guarantee them a minimum number of hours and is stopped from working for another company. This is described as an ‘exclusivity clause’. In certain cases this can mean that people were stopped from looking for work elsewhere particularly when they needed more hours to bump up their earnings. Feedback from employers themselves suggests awareness that there can be abuses that limit flexibility.


There is no clear or legal definition of a zero hours contract and it can cover a number of working arrangements.  This can lead to confusion and a lack of understanding on contract details and what it means for the individual. In some cases people were not aware of the fact that there was a possibility that they might not be offered work on a regular basis.

Uncertainty of earnings

The amount of money a person on a ZHC can expect to earn is dependent on the number of hours worked.  This means that people on a ZHC can find it hard to calculate earnings and it can lead to concerns about how benefits might be affected.


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