As the government consultation period on zero hours contracts comes to an end, it is clear the government has no plan to bring an end to the abuses of zero hours contracts.

‘Zero hours contract’ is not a precise legal term with a universally understood meaning. It is shorthand for contracts where workers are only paid for work that is actually done even though employees are required to be available to work at other times, without remuneration and without the guarantee of work, and cannot work for other employers.

Evidence shows that the widespread and long-term use of zero hours contracts means that job security and employment protection are essentially bypassed.

At least a million British workers suffer the insecurity of zero hours contracts. Action is needed to address the exploitation that these contracts bring to working people.

The Chief Executive of Thompsons, Stephen Cavalier, said: “Zero hours contracts cause widespread uncertainty for employees in the form of low pay, poor job security and reduced employment rights. This exploitation should be outlawed.

“However, this consultation is clearly not a genuine attempt to address the exploitation inherent in zero hours contracts. The questions it asks and the terms of the debate it sets are disingenuous attempts to defend the status quo in the interests of the unscrupulous employer.

“Workers very rarely have any choice in what type of contract they work under or what is contained within it, especially among the group of workers vulnerable to being offered a zero hours contract. The only choice is to work or not work, and it is essential that the government acts to end these inherently abusive practices.”

Thompsons Solicitors call for the following measures to end abuses:

  • All zero hours contracts deemed to be contracts of employment;
  • Employer exclusivity clauses banned entirely;
  • A mechanism whereby, after a period of employment on a zero hours contract, an individual could seek to have it transformed into a ‘traditional’ contract;
  • The right for employees to request a ‘traditional’ employment contract introduced under the part-time workers directive;
  • National minimum wage legislation applied to ‘on call’ periods under zero hours contracts.