Opposition Day — [7th Allotted Day] — Zero-hours Contracts

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 16th October 2013.

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Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 12:45 pm, 16th October 2013

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, and he is right to point that out. We are in the fourth year of this Government and blame is continually attributed to the Labour party. This Government ought to look at what they are doing to our country and our economy.

My hon. Friend Mr Cunningham made a point about insecurity at work. That insecurity is not just borne out of three wasted years of a flatlining economy following the Government’s 2010 comprehensive spending review which caused confidence to fall and demand to nosedive; it is also because the nature of work has changed in recent years. Half the rise in employment since 2010 has been in temporary work, driven primarily by people doing temporary jobs because they cannot find permanent work—more than 500,000 people fall into that category—while record numbers of people are in part-time work who would prefer to be working full time, meaning that there is huge underemployment.

But perhaps the most shocking symptom of the changing nature of work is the proliferation of the use of zero-hours contracts, under which a person is not guaranteed any work, is usually expected to be around whenever the employer wants them to be and is paid only for the work he or she gets, meaning, as my hon. Friend Mr Cunningham said, that individuals engaged under these contracts never know when work will come and therefore whether they can sustain themselves and their families week to week.