Clarity needed on ‘zero hours’ worker’s rights - Ramsey

SDLP's Pat Ramsey.  (1005JB04)

SDLP's Pat Ramsey. (1005JB04)

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A Derry MLA is to ask the North’s Assembly to clarify the legal rights of causal workers and employees on ‘zero hour ‘ contracts.

SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey has submitted a motion to the Assembly calling on the Employment and Learning Minister to clarify the legal status of ‘zero hour’ contract and casual workers in relation to sick benefits and holiday pay.

He said that “a recent employment tribunal in England has brought the opportunity to address concerns in what is becoming a more frequent employment status.”

Mr Ramsey said:“The Office of National Statistics deems the number of people in the UK on ‘zero-hour’ contracts to be around 250,000, and it has been estimated that in the North there are as many as 4% of the entire workforce – though I suspect the number is much higher.

“In this economic climate we know employers are seeking a more flexible workforce, however we must ensure as best possible that the rights of workers are protected and that any legal issues around employment status are clarified to ensure that employers and employees are clear on their rights and responsibilities.”

The Derry MLA continued:”A case has recently been taken to an Industrial Tribunal in England questioning the legal employment status of a ‘zero hour’ contract and it is only prudent that we endeavour to analyse all the relevant input from stakeholders locally and have the Department publish details of the legal position.

“It is only fitting now given the Department of Employment and Learning is undertaking a review of local Employment Law and I hope that a fruitful debate can be held whereby we listen to the business community and to other stakeholders to gain an idea of the impact of zero hour contracts both positive and negative,” he said.