The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) was responding to the business secretary’s comments at the Resolution Foundation yesterday, in which he proposed allowing anyone on a zero-hours contract the right to request fixed-hours from their employer.
Mr Cable said “more can be done” on zero hours contracts but it needed to recognise the “dangers of unintended consequences”.
He said: “There is one proposal which the opposition has been putting forward that it should be compulsory on an employer to offer a fixed-hours contract after a period of time on a zero hours contract – they say 12 months. I think we feel this is not very wise, because there are a lot of contexts where zero hours contracts work for the employee and the employer and if that were the case you would get a massive proliferation of zero hours unsatisfactory 11-month, zero-hours contracts in those sectors and firms where more rigid arrangements don't work well.
“Where I personally think we ought to be going is looking at the right to request a fixed contract, building on the model which we already have for flexible working. I think that the area where we need to more forward and indeed I am looking at how we can best do that.”
ALMR strategic affairs director, Kate Nicholls said there was a need to strike a balance between fairness and flexibility in order to tackle abuse while maintaining prosperity.
She said: “Licensed hospitality is a sector which has a need for casual and temporary staff to deal with fluctuating demand. For many working in licensed retail, temporary and casual contracts offer a flexible method of working, particularly for those combining work with study.
“The business secretary’s proposals need to take a balanced approach to addressing flexible working hours. We also need to ensure that our people are treated fairly and tackle examples of abuse in the system.
“The ALMR supported the Government’s initial proposals around tackling abusive exclusivity clauses and the promotion of best practice through Employer Codes. What we do not want is another level of bureaucratic restrictions which only add costs and impacts on our ability to invest in our people, in continued job creation and growth in our local communities. Nor do we support Labour’s proposals for automatic rights which may suit neither employer nor employee and stifle the sector’s ability to promote jobs and growth.”