A right to request a predictable contract

As the Olympics take place, Community is calling for a better world of work for everyone. This blog is part of a ten part series outlining the changes we want to see to create that better world.

A contract is an essential for employment. It details how much you will be paid, what benefits you are entitled to and what you and your employer can expect from one another.

However, not all contracts are equal. For those on zero hour contracts, as the name suggests, their weekly or monthly scheduled working patterns are not fixed. This means that those workers cannot guarantee how many hours they will be working in any given period.

This flexibility can be one-sided and can be misused by employers to boost profits at the expense of their workers, such as cancelling shifts at the last minute or sending employees home when customer demand is low.

For some people they can go for years in this style of insecure work not knowing what their shift pattern will be, how many hours they will get each week and how much they will end up getting paid.

This also makes it harder for workers to access employment rights and protections, as well as facing rejection when applying for mortgages or loans.

In 2018, the government commissioned the independent Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices – to ensure that the U.K labour market can adapt effectively to changes in the working world whilst ensuring the protection of workers’ rights.

This resulted in the Good Work Plan, produced by the then Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Rt Hon Greg Clark MP.

In this plan, the government made clear that “We will legislate to give all workers the right to request a more stable contract.”. According to this, after 26 weeks workers would be able to request a predictable contract with a fixed working pattern.

This was published in December 2018. Two and a half years later, no such change has been introduced. In the recent Queen’s Speech setting out the government’s agenda for the coming year, a new bill on employment rights was again notably absent.

As we are competing to build a better working world post-pandemic, it is time we give workers this important right. It is time we legislate to end insecure work, and give workers the financial and person freedom that comes with having a predictable contract.

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at help@community-tu.org or on 0800 389 6332.

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