Business Secretary Vince Cable today announced his intention to get tough on so-called “rogue directors” and zero-hours contracts.
Speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, Cable said that he plans to bring in legislation that will make it easier to prosecute and ban those directors who walk away from debts and their customers.
He added in a statement: “We need to see fairness as well as trust in our director disqualification regime. For too long, a small rotten core has gotten away with either a slap on the wrist, a ban from working in their own industry or at the most, a time-limited ban.
“This neglects the fact that rogue directors’ decisions affect the lives of the employees they are responsible for and the businesses they deal with. That is why I will beef up the laws to ban rogue directors from running British companies so dodgy directors face the strongest possible consequences for their irresponsible actions.”
John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The FSB supports the announcement made by Business Secretary Vince Cable to introduce stricter enforcement to tackle the damaging impact so called rogue directors can have on small businesses and their staff. It is long overdue and an issue we’ve wanted the Government to look at for a long time.”
Cable also touched on the controversial issue of zero-hours contracts, saying he had secured agreement to develop a framework to tackle unfair conditions.
He said: “I will act against abusive practices in zero hours contracts, like exclusivity arrangements which prevent workers seeking alternatives, even when they are given no work.”
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the issue was a “storm in a political teacup,” given that such a small proportion of workers are employed on those terms.
He said: “While it is right to stop abuse by any unscrupulous employer, it feels like a lot of political energy is being expended on a niche issue when there are far more important challenges to tackle if Britain’s economy is to go from good to great.”
Allan adds: “When to make use of these contracts is a question of responsible management. There are situations where zero hour contracts are a good fit for employee and employer.
“Students looking for occasional work and people returning to work following parental leave are good examples of this. For those businesses that do employ in this way, they can enable them to better manage costs when demand is sporadic and in businesses that are run on very fine margins.”