Zero hours contracts are a hot topic across all three manifestos, with all parties intending to introduce some form of regulation. The Conservatives pledge to eradicate exclusivity in zero hours contracts through a provision in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act, which will render exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts unenforceable and with further regulation intended to impose financial penalties on employers and requiring employers to pay compensation to zero hours workers. Labour are proposing a ban on exploitative zero hours contracts in their manifesto and promise that where a zero hours worker works “regular hours” for more than 12 weeks, they will have a right to a “regular contract”. Labour’s manifesto promises to introduce new legal rights for zero hours workers, preventing employers from cancelling shifts at short notice without compensation and forcing zero hours workers to be available at all times. The Labour manifesto also details the Party’s intention to monitor employment policies to see whether employers are increasing the use of short term contracts. The Lib Dems promise to eradicate the abuse of zero hours contracts by giving workers a formal right to request a fixed contract and their manifesto refers to their plans to consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time.
Zero hours contracts are controversial, not least in relation to whether they do in fact provide a f lexible solution for employers and employees or whether they are abused in practice. Given the focus on eradicating exclusivity and introducing regulation, it is likely that they will remain a key focus area for any new Government.