Employment legislation is hot news right now, as the main political parties release their manifestos, hit the campaign trail, and aim to make sure that voters know exactly how their lives can be improved, if they make the right choice at the polling station come June 8th.
People care about how they’re treated at work, how much cash they take home each month, and the provisions that are in place to make sure that they’re given the opportunity to thrive.
So it’s not really surprising that the ever-controversial issue of zero hours contracts is being brought into the conversation. Is it really fair to employ staff on such contracts? Is it the marker of an irresponsible employer? And does the system need to be scrapped altogether to give people access to better working conditions?
Labour seems to think so. As part of a 20-point plan which it believes will remedy the problem of a ‘rigged economy’ in the workplace, it’s proposing a ban on both zero hours contracts and unpaid internships.
The Liberal Democrats are taking a similar stance. Their manifesto stated that they’d stamp down on the abuse of such working arrangements, and give workers the right to request a fixed contract after a certain period of time.
Whether these policies will see the light of day remains to be seen, but what’s evident here is that a change to zero hours contract regulation is a bargaining chip for politicians because it’s such a controversial subject. If you ask any member of the general public what their views on such contracts, then they’re likely to tell you that they’re unfair for workers, create a great deal of uncertainty in the lives of people who want to work and contribute to society, and allow unscrupulous businesses to take advantage of their most important asset of all.