I am very concerned that there are almost 1,000 people in Worsley and Eccles South who have been unemployed for over twelve months. Also, figures show that over 400 people in the constituency have been unemployed for two years or more, an increase of 40% in the last year. It is clear to me that the Government's employment programmes are not working for unemployed people in Salford.
I know that many of my constituents who are unemployed are desperate to get a job. Given the increase in long-term unemployment, many of them may feel forced to accept a zero hours contract as being better than no job at all.
Zero hours contracts are not new but they are in the news because they are being exploited by unscrupulous employers. We hear of care agencies offering dribs and drabs of social care work, with workers bearing the costs of travel between calls and of phone calls to check on users of care. Some employers use the contracts to offer overnight or daytime shifts at very short notice. Workers on these contracts are expected to respond at short notice and at different times of day, yet some weeks they may get no work at all.
Workers on zero hours contracts can be employed by agencies for less pay and with less favourable conditions than the employees they work alongside. If they refuse work offered at short notice they may find they don’t get any more work offered to them. To add to their worries, people on zero hours contracts may find they lose housing benefit or tax credits some weeks and end up having to borrow money to pay their bills.
Labour will act to end the uncertainty and insecurity caused when zero hours contracts are abused by employers. We would stop employers insisting that zero hours workers are available even when there is no guarantee of any work or that they are forced to work exclusively for one business. We will also end the misuse of zero hours contracts where employees are actually working regular hours over a sustained period.