24 August 2016
The Social Security Minister has responded to the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel’s review which highlights that zero-hour contracts are positive in many circumstances. Deputy Susie Pinel said “I am grateful to the Panel for their review and I am pleased that the report recognises flexibility as a key benefit of zero-hour contracts, both for employers and for employees. This reflects the evidence provided by the Statistics Unit that 76% of people on zero-hour contracts were satisfied with a zero-hour arrangement, particularly with the flexibility (JASS 2014). We know that being in work is good for people and zero-hour contracts can provide useful opportunities to help people get back into work.”
The Scrutiny Panel has presented 17 key findings and 21 recommendations - many of which propose Employment Law changes. The Minister noted that there was a lack of local evidence included in the report to demonstrate any negative impact of zero-hour contracts in Jersey. Deputy Pinel said “I have committed to review family friendly employment rights and to introduce protection against disability discrimination. The recommendations of the Panel to create new legislation for zero-hour contracts would divert considerable resources and I am not willing to delay the work that we have planned. Supporting working parents and those with a disability are priorities for the public and will affect people across the Island.” The Employment Law was amended last year to improve employment protection for employees working under zero-hour contracts.
The Minister explained that: “Over-regulating the Law is likely to remove flexibility for both parties, and brings the risk that some employers might seek to avoid employment protection in other ways. Our Employment Law is currently straightforward and it provides a good balance between rights and responsibilities for employees and employers, as well as being appropriate for the size of Jersey.”
The Minister will be pleased to act on six of the key recommendations, primarily to improve publicity and circulation of the guidance on zero-hour contracts and the Department will continue to promote and encourage good employment practice. The Minister will discuss with the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service, as well as officers in the Department, the most appropriate and cost effective ways of increasing publicity and awareness to ensure that employees are clear on their existing rights and that employers understand their obligations under this type of employment contract.