18 Days Remaining

Wednesday 24th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

UNIONS have angrily condemned proposals to give workers on zero-hours contracts the right to “request” fixed hours.

In a submission to a government-commissioned review of working practices, bosses’ club the CBI says such a “right” should be introduced on the same basis as the right to ask for flexible working arrangements.

It is expected that Matthew Taylor, a former adviser to Tony Blair carrying out the review, will back the move.

But TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This could mean close to zero action on zero-hours contracts.

“A ‘right to request’ guaranteed hours from an exploitative boss is no right at all for many workers.

“To make a real change, we should turn this policy on its head. Everyone should be entitled to guaranteed hours, with a genuine choice for workers to opt out, free from pressure from their boss.”

She said additional hours on top of those contracted to workers should be paid at overtime rates.

“All parties should be upfront about what is on offer to working people trapped in insecure work this election — and stop hiding behind a review that will report after voting is over,” she added.

GMB leader Tim Roache said: “This is basically the right to ask your bosses not to exploit you.

“That’s going to make absolutely no difference to people’s lives. It’s tantamount to: ‘Please sir, can I have some more?’

“The very nature of a zero-hours contract means that any employee making noises about rights, proper hours or how they’re treated will simply find they don’t get any hours next week.”

And Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner branded it a “totally useless measure” that would have little effect.

“An incoming government must act to end the abuse of zero hours and short hours’ contracts by following the lead of New Zealand by banning them,” he said.

Mr Taylor, who is now chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, has been given the job of looking at issues relating to insecure work and the “gig economy” of companies such as Uber and Deliveroo.

High-profile employment tribunal cases have seen such companies’ practices of classing their workers as self-employed ruled illegal.