Labour to crack down on zero-hour contracts

Posted On: 
1st April 2015

Workers on zero-hours contracts will have the right to regular employment after 12 weeks, Ed Miliband has pledged today.

Mr Miliband told BBC Breakfast he wanted to stop the “epidemic” of zero hour contracts that he believed had increased the levels of insecurity for working people.

However, the Labour leader's proposals have come under fire from business groups.

In a statement, the Institute of Directors said the policy “does not match the reality” and was potentially damaging to business.

It said: "Labour's proposals go too far. They are unnecessary and potentially damaging. Frankly, this is an example of politics trumping good policy.

"A  cross-party consensus has already emerged that would ban the use of exclusivity clauses, but limiting the use of a zero hours contract to just 12 weeks would apply rigid controls on an important element of our flexible labour market.”

The IOD's Christian May told BBC News: “There are 700k on these contracts. It does seem a bit odd to make such a niche issue a big part of your economic narrative.” 

When asked whether the IOD would have signed the Telegraph letter, he said: "It's not a letter we would sign... Our role is to ensure that businesses and members of the IOD are heard... We won't be engaging in partisan positioning."



Ed Miliband: We must act against zero-hours epidemic​

Business leaders support Conservative led-government

Zero-hours workers would get regular contracts after 12 weeks, says Miliband


The Confederation of British Industry also voiced concern over Labour’s plans, saying they were “wide of the mark” and run the risk of “day-to-day hiring” in parts of the economy causing lower stability for workers.

However, Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, welcomed the pledge by the Labour party.

In a statement, she said: “Zero-hours workers are often too afraid to speak up for their rights for fear of losing work.

“We need a fairer system that guarantees zero-hours workers decent rights at work and stops them from being treated like second-class employees."

Mr Miliband defended the policy on BBC Breakfast this morning, citing the “unpredictability” and "insecurity" people on zero hour contracts face.

He said: “There is an issue about the number of hours, but there is also an issue about the unpredictability of the hours. That’s the insecurity people face.

“I don’t think it is good enough for the people of Britain, and that’s why we have got to make this change,” he added.

The policy, which will be included in Labour's election manifesto, strengthens his original pledge that workers will be entitled to a regular contract after 12 months.