Zero hours: Miliband proposes changes effectively outlawing “kind of exploitation”

Following weekend briefing of Ed Miliband’s speech to the TUC, today more details have emerged of what the Labour leader will be saying tomorrow – this time on zero hours contracts. Miliband is expected to say:

“We need flexibility. But we must stop flexibility being used as the excuse for exploitation.

Exploitation which leaves workers carrying all of the burdens of unpredictable hours, irregular pay, no security for the future.

Of course, there are some kinds of these contracts which are useful. For doctors, or supply teachers at schools, or sometimes, young people working in bars

But you and I know that zero hours contracts have been terribly misused.

This kind of exploitation has to stop.

We will support those businesses and workers that want to get on in life. But we will ban practices which lead to people being ground down.”

The proposals on zero hours are likely to include giving those working for a single employer for more than 12 weeks on a zero-hours contract the right to a full-time contract, based on the hours worked over that period. The Guardian says Miliband will also propose three specific measures to tackle zero hours contracts:

  • Banning employers from insisting zero-hours workers be available even when there is no guarantee of any work.
  • Stopping zero hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one business.
  • Ending the misuse of zero hours contracts where employees are in practice working regular hours over a sustained period.

These measures combined would effectively outlaw zero hours contracts as they currently exist.

An independent consultation with business groups – exploring how these measures might work – will also be announced by Miliband. That will be chaired by Norman Pickavance, former head of HR for Morrisons.

Here’s the full extract that will feature in Miliband’s speech tomorrow:

“Living standards have now fallen for longer than at any time since 1870.

You know what that means. People not knowing how to make ends meet at the end of each month.

Wages falling, and their bills rising.

Not just this month but month after month after month.

No Prime Minister on record has seen so many months of falling living standards, 37 out of the 38 that he’s been in Downing Street for.

David Cameron boasts that he’s fixed Britain’s economy, but hard working families know things are getting harder not easier for them.

But there is one group who does feel there is an economic recovery. The privileged few in our society. They are certainly doing well out of this Government. The City bonuses are back – up 82% in April of this year alone.

After over three years of this government, with our economy still smaller than it was before the financial crisis, the rewards in our economy are going only to the few at the top. And that’s not just unfair. It’s bad for our country.

Because an unequal recovery won’t be a stable recovery. It won’t be built to last.

The only way we can have a durable recovery is with an economy that works for all working people.

Now I recognise, as do you, that both workers and businesses need flexibility.

It is how you have rightly worked to keep people working even during the most difficult moments of the recession, working fewer hours, putting jobs above pay rises.

We need flexibility. But we must stop flexibility being used as the excuse for exploitation.

Exploitation which leaves workers carrying all of the burdens of unpredictable hours, irregular pay, no security for the future.

And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to zero hours contracts.

Of course, there are some kinds of these contracts which are useful. For doctors, or supply teachers at schools, or sometimes, young people working in bars.

But you and I know that zero hours contracts have been terribly misused.

This kind of exploitation has to stop.

We will support those businesses and workers that want to get on in life.

But we will ban practices which lead to people being ground down

For this Conservative-led government that is the way an economy succeeds.

Insecurity for the many. Rewards just for those at the top. That’s not my vision for the way an economy succeeds.

I believe that what makes an economy strong is not a few people at the top, but the forgotten wealth creators: the people who put in the hours, do the work, do two jobs.

We will only build a recovery that works for all, when working people feel confident and secure at work.”

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