First attempt to regulate zero hours contracts to be debated on Friday

MPs will debate a private member’s pill tomorrow, Friday, to properly regulate and limit the use of zero hours contracts.

UNISON has worked with Ian Mearns MP on his bill which is the first attempt to tackle the exploitative use of zero hours contracts, making sure that those who do regular work can receive regular hours contracts along with all of the rights and protections afforded to regular workers.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This bill deserves support as it is the first serious attempt to legally define sero hours contracts and deal with the whole range of problems workers on them face.

“If successful it offers a route to a secure and regular wage and improved employment rights.”

Ian Mearns MP added: “Underemployment and job insecurity and are leading causes of in-work poverty and the consequent cost of living crisis.

“These are set to be defining issues in the run up to the general election and the use and abuse of zero hours contracts is key.

“Under this government the number of people on sero hours contracts has risen to 1.4m. I think that it is a scandal that in 2014 in the UK working people have to live with the insecurity of not knowing when their next shift or paycheque will come.”

The bill will require employers to:

  • treat zero hours contract workers on the same basis as comparable workers engaged by their employer on fixed and regular working hours contracts;
  • give zero hours contract workers reasonable notice  - 72hrs – of any request or requirement to undertake a period of employment and any cancellation of a period of employment already agreed;
  • pay 150% of the rate they would normally be paid for the period in question if reasonable notice is not given for a request or requirement for a period of employment;
  • pay for the period of employment in question if it is cancelled without reasonable notice;
  • place a duty on employers to offer zero hours contract workers – who have who have requested a fixed and regular hour contract and been employed for a period of 12 weeks – a fixed and regular hour contract.

Worth it – UNISON’s campaign for fair pay