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Evidence on Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

House of Commons Public Bill Committee

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill proposes changes on three specific issues of concern to CAS – the misuse of zero hours contracts, the non-payment of Employment Tribunal awards, and workers being paid less than the National Minimum Wage.

Based on bureau evidence, CAS submitted written evidence to the Westminster Committee scrutinising the Bill. On each of these issues, the Bill contains some welcome measures – banning exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts and introducing financial penalties for employers who do not pay Employment Tribunal awards or pay less than the Minimum Wage to multiple employees.

However, the Bill could do more to tackle these unacceptable situations, particularly on the misuse of zero hours contracts, where problems faced by CAB clients include being left destitute or in debt as a result of unpredictable hours, or faced with a situation where they have few enforceable employment rights. These are not caused by exclusivity clauses and would not be solved by these proposals. 

Citizens Advice Scotland:

  • Welcomes the proposed ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts

  • Recommends that workers on a zero hours contract should be given a statutory ‘right to request’ a contract that guarantees hours, without suffering dismissal or detriment for making the request

  • Recommends that the Bill includes a provision to ensure that where mutuality of obligation for the employee to undertake work provided by the employer is present, an individual is classed as an employee rather than a worker even if their contract states zero hours

  • Recommends that protection from unfair dismissal is extended to workers as well as employees

  • Recommends that full rights to parental leave and pay is extended to workers as well as employees

  • Recommends that employers should inform prospective candidates that the vacancy is on a zero hours basis, for instance by publishing it in the job advertisement, or by informing them at interview

  • Welcomes the proposed introduction of a financial penalty that can be imposed on employers who fail to pay the sum, or expenses ordered by an Employment Tribunal

  • Recommends that the Committee consider an amendment to ensure that the employer pays the sum due to the successful claimant as well as the financial penalty to the Secretary of State

  • Recommends that Employment Tribunal awards, expenses or fees unable to be enforced due to insolvency or phoenix trading should be able to be claimed from the National Insurance Fund

  • Welcomes the proposed increase in financial penalties against employers for underpayment of the National Minimum Wage where an employer has underpaid multiple employees

  • Recommends the UK Government runs an awareness-raising campaign to ensure workers know that they are entitled to a National Minimum Wage and how to claim it

  • Recommends that in the longer term, a ‘Fair Employment Commission’ should be created with the legal powers and resources both to secure individual vulnerable workers their rights in all areas of employment (including pay), and to root out rogue employers.
Rob Gowans
Publication date
October 2014
Publication type
Number of pages