By Pravin Jeyaraj
Zero Hours Justice's minimum criteria for employers who use zero hours contracts closely matches the rights that would be available to zero hours workers under the Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions. We therefore back the Trade Union Congress (TUC)'s call for the government to "keep the pace with the EU on rights" and "bring forward the long-awaited employment bill to end exploitative work practices like zero-hours contracts, once and for all".
Our own analysis shows that many zero hours workers already have what are in effect long-term, regular and predictable working patterns, even it is not technically guaranteed. We see no reason why such workers should not be entitled to the protections that would be available to them if they were on permanent or fixed term contracts.
It's not only the EU that the UK is at risk of falling behind but also English-speaking common law Commonwealth jurisdictions, the very countries who similarity to the UK Brexit was meant to emphasise. Last year, the Australian government put forward legislation that would compel employers to offer permanent contracts to casual workers who have worked for them for a year and have been in regular shifts for six months. In 2017, New Zealand effectively banned zero hours contracts, followed by Ireland on Christmas Day in 2019. A court ruling in South Africa has found that out not guaranteeing minimum hours constituted "less favourable treatment", a breach of the Labour Relations Act 2015.
In 2019, the UK did consult on a number of reforms, including compensation for shifts cancelled at short notice and minimum notice periods for cancelling shifts. Nothing much appears have to happened with that consultation. Zero Hours Justice has receive correspondence from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy confirming that forthcoming legislation would contain a right for zero hours workers to request a more predictable contract after 26 weeks of service. The problem is that no-one knows when the proposed employment bill will materialise.
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