August 30, 2013

Vince Cable’s review of zero-hours contracts ‘inadequate’

The Government’s fact-finding exercise into zero-hours contracts is “inadequate” and requires further analysis to identify best practice for employers, according to a report published today.

The report, ‘Flexibility or insecurity? Exploring the rise in zero hours contracts’ published by The Work Foundation, calls for a more systematic investigation into zero-hours contracts than the review commissioned by the business secretary Vince Cable.

Characteristics of workers on zero-hours contracts (ZHCs) vs non-ZHC contracts







Two years or more*



Less than six months*



Weekly hours vary



Looking for another job



Would like more hours



Full-time students



* with current employer
Source: ONS Labour Force Survey, 2012 Q4 analysis from The Work Foundation

The report describes how existing official statistics on zero-hours contracts are unreliable, and provides a detailed analysis of the available data setting the wider context of such contracts. In the report, Brinkley asserts that calls to ban zero-hours contracts for reasons of bad employment are misplaced, as is the view that they are a uniquely exploitative form of contract.

The analysis suggests that zero-hours workers are more likely to be permanent staff than in temporary employment. And while many would expect the contracts’ use to be more common among temporary low-paid workers, the reality is far more nuanced. The report illustrates how the picture varies from sector to sector. For instance, in low-paid work, their use is common in hospitality – where it is reported in nearly 20% of workplaces – but rare in retail, where it is 6%.

Government plans changes to TUPE regulations for January 2014

Changes to the TUPE regulations originally intended for October 2013 are now likely to come into force in January 2014, according to a spokesman from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). The Government is planning to publish its response to the consultation on proposed changes to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) or “TUPE” Regulations in early September 2013.

Proposed TUPE amendments include: a repeal of the provisions on service provision changes, for example outsourcing and retendering; a repeal of the requirement for the transferor to provide employee liability information; and limiting the future applicability of terms and conditions derived from collective agreements to one year from transfer.

BIS said it was still finalising the timescale for the TUPE changes but that it plans to lay the draft regulations before Parliament in December 2013, with the intention that they come into force in January 2014.


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