8 April 2015

Attacking what he called the epidemic of zero-hours employment, Labour leader Ed Miliband has committed his party to banning employers from keeping workers on these contracts for more than 12 weeks.

Previously, Labour had suggested that a deadline of one year would be imposed if it won the forthcoming election. The new proposal means that 90% of zero-hours contracts will be covered by any new legislation.

Mr Milband has ridiculed the Prime Minister's claim that workers like being on zero-hours contracts and highlighted Mr Cameron's admission in a recent interview by Jeremy Paxman that he could not live on one himself.

However, the new proposal has not been well-received by the Institute of Directors (IoD) for whom Christian May, Head of Communications and Campaigns, has described it as a threat to the UK’s flexible labour market.

"A cross-party consensus has already emerged that would ban the use of exclusivity clauses," he went on, "but limiting the use of a zero-hours contract to just 12 weeks would apply rigid controls on an important element of our flexible labour market."

While nobody supports the misuse of these contracts, Mr May argued, demonising and ultimately outlawing them will simply risk jobs and undermine a labour market that has made the UK " the envy of Europe".

He also claimed that they are used by a little over 2% of workers although there are ongoing arguments about exactly how many people are currently on zero-hours contracts with no firm official figures available.