Zero-hours contracts is an issue that causes significant concern and heart break amongst those affected in Gibraltar. This week, following sustained union campaigning, Irish legislation came into force which bans these contracts and secures other key rights for those in insecure employment. The GSD has been at the forefront of calls for similar legislation to be introduced here.

Zero-hour contracts (or its euphemism: “as and when required” contracts) are exploitative of workers.  Typically, it means the employer is under no obligation to provide a worker with a minimum number of hours work.  If people need to pay their bills and are told at no notice there will be no work for them that week, budgeting is impossible. No guarantee of work is heart breaking for those affected.

Daniel Feetham QC MP said

“We accept this is by no means a Gibraltar phenomenon, but Gibraltar has always prided itself as being a caring society where we protect workers.  Incredulously, in answer to questions from GBC recently, the Government said that it did not keep any statistics of the number of employees on zero-hour contracts in Gibraltar.  In the UK the number of workers on zero-hours contracts has shot up in 2018 from 747,000 to 903,000, up 21% in the space of a year, according to the Office for National Statistics. There is no doubt that Gibraltar has seen, also, a significant increase in the use of zero-hour or “as and when required” contracts . The practice should be banned.  This is not just the GSD’s view.  It is the view of some of the Unions locally.  In his May Day Message in 2017 the Chief Minister said that “the Government would not tolerate the growth of zero-hour contracts in service providers to the Government”.

We do not know what the Government has done in respect of that commitment, but it does not go far enough.  The practice should be outlawed and should be outlawed across the board. I hope there are concrete commitments from the Government with concrete time-lines announced during the Budget Debate next week.  For its part the GSD has been examining models of legislation that provide for this in other countries such as Ireland and New Zealand and would, in Government, intend to put forward such legislation after consultation with unions and the business sector”.