The Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced a package of measures to inject more fairness into the workforce and in wages for British workers. Following an initial review over the summer, Dr Cable announced today that he will launch a consultation on zero-hours contracts (ZHC) in order to tackle any abuses Government finds, particularly those involving exclusivity. Dr Cable has also asked the Low Pay Commission (LPC), the body that advises Government on the National Minimum Wage (NMW), to consider how the NMW may be able to rise faster than current conditions allow over the medium term. This will allow low paid workers to benefit from the emerging economic recovery. In particular, he has asked the LPC to consider what labour market conditions will need to be in place in the medium term to allow further increases in wages without an adverse impact on jobs.
On zero-hours contracts Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “I have been examining closely the issue of zero-hour contracts over the last few months. We’ve been speaking to businesses, trade unions and other groups both about their downsides and their benefits.
It is clear that they are much more widely used than we had previously thought. It is also clear that there are abuses in the system, especially around the issue of exclusivity which some employers are demanding from workers on these contracts.
Today I am announcing that we will proceed to issue a consultation, which will explore how to tackle any abuses, particularly around exclusivity. I am determined to make sure people are paid and treated fairly, in a way that also helps keep people employed in these delicate economic times”.
On the National Minimum Wage, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The National Minimum Wage is a vital safety net in protecting the low paid. However, as signs of an economic recovery start to emerge, we need to do more to make sure that the benefits of growth are shared fairly across the board.
The Low Pay Commission every year carries out a huge amount of valuable, detailed work looking at labour conditions across the economy. Today, in addition to their ongoing annual remit, I am asking them to extend this expertise to help the government and business understand how we can deal with the issue of low wages in the economy. In particular I have asked them to look at what economic conditions would be needed to allow the National Minimum Wage to rise by more than current conditions allow”.