Welsh Government tackles zero-hours contracts

Rebecca Evans has revealed that the Welsh Government will tackle zero-hours contracts for thousands of care workers.

The Social Services Minister said that the contracts can have a ‘hugely-detrimental impact’ on lives, and will see workers given the choice after three months on whether they wish to continue with the arrangement or move onto a minimum-hours contract.

Research discovered that a ‘substantial number’ of care workers, who provide care in their own homes, were on zero-hours contracts - reported as between 56 per cent and 80 per cent of the workforce in domiciliary care.

Under the proposals, care providers would also need to distinguish clearly between travel time and care time when arranging services, tackling the ‘call-clipping’ culture.

Evans said: "While some staff prefer zero-hours contracts, valuing the flexibility they can offer, for many the uncertainty and insecurity they pose can have a hugely-detrimental impact on their lives. Crucially the plans we are putting out to consultation today will ensure employees have a choice. After three months of employment, they will be able to choose whether to move onto another zero-hours contract, or take up alternative contractual arrangements."

However, Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, claimed that the proposals would ‘do nothing’ to address the ‘serious issues’ in the sector, as the majority of the estimated 18,000 care workers in Wales work for private care companies, as opposed to being directly employed by local councils.

He said: “The chronic problems afflicting the domiciliary care sector run far deeper than the issue of zero hours contracts. Domiciliary care in Wales is mired in crisis and these proposals will do nothing to address the serious issues which are resulting in companies either closing down or relinquishing contracts because they are just not viable.”

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