Vince Cable has moved to end exclusivity clauses in the controversial zero-hours contracts. The clauses mean that employees who already have no guaranteed work with their employer are contractually obliged not to take work elsewhere.
The removal of the exclusivity clauses will allow employees working under zero-hours contracts to boost their income by taking work elsewhere.
Cable said that the contracts in conjunction with exclusivity clauses were being abused by “unscrupulous” employers.
But Cable did not criticise zero-hours contracts themselves, saying that they had a place in the labour market, offering part-time work to students and older people.
“For many workers this is a perfectly sensible arrangement,” he said to the BBC. “But a lot of people on the contracts aren’t sure what their rights are and we want to make them [zero-hours contracts] more transparent so people know what their rights are.”
According to the business department the ban on exclusivity clauses is set to benefit up to 125,000 people who are currently unable to lift their income by seeking work somewhere else.
But Cable’s plans have been criticised by shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna. Umunna said that Cables plans didn’t go far enough to crack down on the growing use of zero-hours contracts.
He said: “Zero-hours contracts, which were once a niche and marginal concept, have become the norm in parts of our economy as families have been hit by the cost-of-living crisis.”