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Ed Miliband vows to fight zero-hours contracts

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The Labour leader will say he wants to ensure zero-hours workers can demand fixed hours when they’ve worked for the same employer for more than six months and that they automatically receive fixed hours after more than a year – unless they opt out.

He also want to see an end to zero-hours workers being prevented from working for others.

Miliband is expected to say: “We know that a minority of employers are misusing zero hours contracts as a crude way of cutting costs or managing staff. It has left too many people not knowing how they will make ends meet from one week to the next.”

Though the contracts have been shown in some cases to be a headache for workers, business organisations say they are a crucial tool for businesses and can be beneficial to employees who want flexibility.

Last year John Wastnage, employment and skills adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The UK’s flexible labour market has prevented unemployment from increasing to the levels economists expected during and following the recession.

“Excessive restrictions on zero hours contracts could lead to increased unemployment among exactly those groups who already face higher levels of unemployment, and for that reason we are pleased that the government is taking an evidence-based approach.

“Zero hours contracts are vital for a successful jobs market, but they must be fair and work for all parties.” 

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