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Topical Questions

Part of Treasury – in the House of Commons on 24th March 2020.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

May I again welcome much of what the Chancellor is doing, and say that we wish to work with him as positively as we possibly can in this very difficult period? I just wish to return to the issue of zero-hours workers. The Chancellor said very clearly that this applies to all those who are on PAYE, and I welcome that, but the point that we have been making is that many of these zero-hours contract workers—in fact, most of them—are not on PAYE. They are called limb (b) workers, so the scheme does not apply to them. I understand that he is doing his best and I understand the complications, but he has also said that for zero-hours workers, employers may compensate on the basis of average hours worked. The unions in this field representing those workers have urged that this should be mandatory and applied to all zero-hours and variable-hours workers based on average earnings over the previous weeks. That is exactly how those workers’ holiday pay is calculated at the moment, and it is an accurate reflection of what they earn. We need some urgent action for this sizeable group of workers. There are at least nearly a million zero-hours workers, perhaps a million more.