A bill seeking to ban zero-hours contacts and improve workers' rights is to come before parliament for a second reading next week.

Chris Stephens, MP for Glasgow South West, sponsoring the bill, said the Workers (Definition and Rights) Bill 2017-19 would make the definition of a 'worker' clearer considering recent Supreme Court judgements and provide greater protection from the first day of their employment.

It would also ban the use of zero-hour contracts, and provide more safeguards to those in 'precarious' work, such as in the hospitality sector.

The bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on 19th January.

The right to a contract 

According to Mr Stephens before the first reading of the bill in October, it goes against the Taylor Review of modern employment practices, which suggests that only after 12 months in a post are zero-hour contract employees entitled to a contract which guarantees them hours.

Mr Stephens said the Taylor Review “gave more weight to the interests of consumers and employers” than to the workers.

“The clear implication is that full-time secure employment with rights, a pension and clearly defined hours is an outdated 20th-century concept, instead of the peak of a hard-fought struggle to redress the balance between employer and employee-or, at its most extreme, exploiter and exploited,” he said to MP's preceding the bill's first reading.

Ban 'difficult to enforce' 

Employment lawyer John Hayes said that such a ban would be difficult to enforce, saying that the Taylor Review's recommendation of a “pay premium” on the national minimum wage or national living wage for companies that wish to retain a flexible workforce would be more suitable.

He said: “This passes the commercial risk for contingent working from the worker (where it currently sits) to the employer. In short, employers reliant [on] highly flexible workforces will have to pay more, per hour, for labour.”

Mr Stephens said that it was “frustrating to have the sense of the clock being turned back to Victorian standards of employment”.

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