The UK’s professional body for HR and people development has called for a ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts unless businesses can show “compelling and justifiable” reasons for their use.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) issued the comments in response to the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday. Plans to counter abuses of zero hours contracts, as outlined in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, were “welcomed” by the CIPD – but more should be done to protect workers, they say.
Under zero hours contracts, employees are contracted to work when needed but are not guaranteed a minimum amount of work or pay. The contracts have been widely criticised for the lack of security and benefits that they offer. Whilst popular with seasonal and casual workers, they pose a worry for those who depend on these jobs to survive – especially when employers can cancel work at the last minute, or send workers home without pay during quiet times.
To level the playing field, the CIPD has advocated for the introduction of a code of practice that determines how and when zero hours contracts can be issued. The group feels that workers on long term contracts should be entitled to some assurances, such as the ability to request a minimum number of hours per week after their first year. It also argues that exclusivity clauses, whereby employers ban staff from signing up for work with other companies, are rarely defensible.
“Nearly half of zero hours workers have had work cancelled on them with no notice, while a quarter say they are never or only sometimes allowed to work for another employer when their primary employer has no work available for them.” said Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD.
“CIPD research into zero hours workers shows that while, overall, zero hours workers enjoy similar levels of job satisfaction to other workers and report better work-life balance and less stress, there are significant areas of bad practice which should be addressed.”