Next step in Corby MP’s campaign to end zero hours contracts

Corby and East Northants MP Andy Sawford
Corby and East Northants MP Andy Sawford

A Private Members Bill by Corby and East Northants MP Andy Sawford to end zero hours contracts has been published today (Friday, January 24) in Parliament.

It is the next step towards enacting Labour’s plans to ban the contracts.

The Bill defines a zero hours contract as an arrangement for the provision of labour which fails to specify guaranteed working hours.

Mr Sawford said: “Zero hours exploitation keeps the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers in a permanently fragile and uncertain state on the margins of the labour market.

“This Bill will for the first time give zero hours contracts a clear legal definition. This is not about very highly paid professionals who can pick and choose who they work for, and nor is it about occasional workers, such as the lifeguards at my local pool, who do not want fixed hours.

“Zero hours exploitation is the scandal of employers requiring workers to be available for work but where there is no guarantee of work, the unfairness of exclusivity clauses and the denial of a proper contract to a worker even after 12 weeks of working with the same employer.

“Around a million people are on zero hours contracts, with 300,000 in the care sector alone. Zero hours contracts are now widespread in many sectors of the economy and are particularly prevalent in areas of higher unemployment where the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers in Britain exist without knowing when the next pay day might come.

“Hundreds of my constituents have contacted me about zero hours contracts. They tell me about waiting for a call or turning up to the workplace day after day, only to find that there is no work, yet their contracts make it difficult to find alternative employment or to claim job seekers.

“I have heard examples of people making childcare arrangements or paying for transport to work and then waiting for hours before being told they are not needed. Other people have told me that because of zero hours contracts they are unable to get a bank overdraft, a mortgage or car finance.

“I hope the Bill will become law, whether that is now or later depends on Parliament. Ed Miliband has given a clear commitment that the next Labour government will outlaw zero hours exploitation. This Bill gives the current government the chance to wake up to this national scandal and take action now.”

The Bill says that after a 12-week qualifying period workers will be offered a contract of employment including fixed and regular working hours.