I believe it can only be good for UK business that zero hours contracts are being taken seriously and that the pressure on the Government to provide guidelines for employees and employers is growing. The CIPD report following a public consultation has concluded that change is required to ensure the flexibility that can be offered by zero hour contracts benefits both employers and employees.
Flexible working contracts have become increasingly important for many businesses; allowing them to become more agile and competitive and improving employee engagement by giving employees the total flexibility they may need to balance complex home and working lives. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I believe a major issue that needs to be addressed by many organisations is that of making zero hours and other flexible contract employees easier for managers to manage. The way to do this easily is by using workforce management technology that can automate some of the processes needed to track employee attendance and schedule employees according to both business requirements and employee preferences.
Below are the four main recommendations made by the CIPD:
- The use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts preventing workers from working for another employer should be banned, with a narrow exemption for employers that can demonstrate a compelling business reason, for example, confidentiality or the protection of trade secrets.
- CIPD recommends that staff on zero hours contracts should, after a minimum period of 12 months service with an employer, have the legal right to request a minimum number of hours per week. Employers would have to respond positively to the request unless they had a business reason for turning it down.
- The CIPD believes all workers should be legally entitled to a written copy of their terms and conditions not later than two months in employment (currently under the Employment Rights Act 1996 only employees are entitled to this). This would help provide greater clarity on behalf of both parties on the issue of employment status and the associated employment rights.
- The CIPD would support the creation of a code of practice setting out for employers and zero hours workers some key principles and guidance on the responsible management of these types of working arrangements.
The full consultation can be downloaded here: http://www.cipd.co.uk/publicpolicy/consultation-responses/zero-hours-contracts.aspx
The full report, ‘Zero hours contracts: Myths and reality’ is available to download here: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/research/zero-hours-contracts-myth-reality.aspx