Jobseekers may be forced to take zero hours contracts or face losing their benefits under new government plans.
A letter from Employment Minister Esther McVey says jobseekers face losing their benefits for three months or more if they refuse to take a job on zero hours contracts. Zero hours contracts means people only get paid for the hours they work, with no holiday pay or sick pay.
Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented:
"The government should be helping to create full-time jobs with security and apprenticeships for young people. Instead they are encouraging contracts which exploit workers and create financial insecurity. Already millions are stuck in low-paid self-employed, temporary or part-time work. Now the ConDem government has found a new means to force people into poverty."
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government is blaming unemployed people for losing their jobs, and imposing a regime that looks more and more like punishment rather than real help back to work.
“Forcing people into uncertain employment is not the answer to unemployment and may restrict the ability of claimants to seek secure, permanent work. We know that for many workers zero-hours contracts mean zero job security, poor pay and no way of knowing what they’ll be earning from one day to the next.
“An increasing number of unemployed people are being penalised for breaking rules unintentionally and are facing life with no benefits for months as a result. We’ve already seen cases of people losing benefits because they missed a meeting to go to the funeral of a close relative – under these proposals jobseekers are likely to be penalised for refusing a shift because they have a job interview.
“With new plans under the ‘Help to Work’ scheme potentially meaning jobseekers will have to undertake community work alongside convicted offenders, the government is punishing people for being unemployed when they are the real victims here.”