Industry leaders have agreed the need for a recruitment Code of Good Practice in order to deal with zero-hours contracts. This was the tentative agreement that came out of a roundtable on zero-hours contracts held recently in London by Meridian Business Support. Bringing key thinkers and policy makers in the recruitment industry together for the first time to discuss the future of zero-hours contracts, there was a consensus that these contracts should not be outlawed and they should be administrated by an industry statuary code.
Sponsored by NW law firm Brabners, the event provided the opportunity for representatives from organisations including the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), APSCo, PCG, academics, media, the private sector and Trades Union Congress (TUC) along with employment law experts to consult on zero-hours contracts.
Says Mark Mitchell (pictured), CEO, Meridian Business Support: “Zero-hours contracts will remain an integral means to support the fluidity and responsiveness that the UK labour market is renowned for. Unfortunately, because of the media furore surrounding these contracts many workers and employers are suspicious of them, believing that they undermine the rights of short-term staff.
“In reality, it is not the contracts that should be distrusted, but those organisations or intermediaries that abuse them, and we believe that rather than being too bullish about the need for legislation to regulate these contracts, the industry needs to have the necessary dialogue that will result in the collective management our own sector’s issues, including zero-hours contracts."
The full discussion document including final conclusions and suggestions for ways to move forward can be found on either Meridian Business Support or Brabners’ website, however key outcomes from the roundtable included the need for a Code of Good Practice, the provision of written information by the employer to zero-hours workers that fully explains the workings and implications of the contract, as well as the outright ban of exclusivity clauses unless the employer could put forward a specific justification.
In terms of the Code of Good Practice it was agreed that this would be the best framework to further debate and respond to the issues not addressed in BIS’s consultation including:
· Whether a minimum payment should be required when a worker had travelled to the workplace and then be told there is no work
· Whether there should be a minimum number of guaranteed hours
· Whether a retainer should be paid in some circumstances
· Whether after a period of time a permanent contract should be triggered
· Exploration of more effective, speedy and cheap dispute resolution processes.
Findings from BIS’s consultation are not due until April.
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