Tougher action will be taken against businesses who abuse zero hours contracts thanks to new legislation introduced during this year’s Queen’s Speech.
Just last month the business secretary Vince Cable outlined the government’s plans to tackle zero hours contracts due to alarming figures from the Office for National Statistics, which revealed that there are approximately 1.4m employee contracts that do not provide a guaranteed number of hours within a two-week period whilst there are possibly 1.3m contracts in existence providing no work hours at all. As these figures are only estimates, Cable is putting pressure on the ONS for more reliable figures.
Other measures outlined in the Bill include improved financial legislation for small businesses as well as enforcing fines on businesses who fail to pay their workers the minimum wage, which is due to rise to £6.50 in October.
Zero hours contracts tend be more common for young workers between 16-25, over 65s, and women. The government proposes that businesses who abuse zero hours contracts will face tougher penalties whilst the Labour party have pledged to implement further legislation to provide more protection for workers with zero hours contracts should they be elected in the next General Election.
For now this seems to be a small step towards abolishing zero hours contracts altogether. These measures should pave the way for future action and further employment rights for some of the UK’s most vulnerable workers.