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Workplace Insecurity

Volume 571: debated on Thursday 5 December 2013

The 2011 workplace employment relations study found that employees’ feelings of job insecurity were related to three factors: whether their workplace had been subject to any recent redundancies; the perception among managers of the effect of the recent recession; and the number of changes at work experienced by employees.

An increasing proportion of the work force is subject to zero-hours contracts. Does the Minister think that they have anything to do with job insecurity? Do they contribute to insecurity or do they contribute to security?

We have of course been looking at these issues and there is a range of evidence out there. The hon. Gentleman might be interested in the survey published last week by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which found there was no difference in the level of job security experienced by zero-hours workers compared with the average employee. We have looked at a range of problems that have been identified, such as exclusivity, the information available and the uncertainty over earnings. We will be publishing a consultation shortly.

Is not the greatest cause of insecurity for those in work the nightmare prospect of the shadow Chancellor ever getting anywhere near the door of No. 11 Downing street, given that he has been proved wrong in every single economic prediction he has made?

My hon. Friend makes an important and powerful point. We want to ensure job security by having falling unemployment and a growing economy. That is exactly what the Government are delivering. [Interruption.]

Order. It is a bit unsatisfactory if one Minister is heckling another. You yourself, Mr Hancock, are undergoing an apprenticeship to become a statesman, but I think there are some years to run.

20. Hundreds of workers across north-east England joined the millions across the country in fearing for their future when npower decided last week to export hundreds of jobs to India and force Thornaby-based workers to travel to a new location nearly an hour away. Does the Minister now understand why half the working population fear for their jobs and feel insecure? What is she going to do about it? (901465)

The hon. Gentleman understandably raises a constituency case, and I am sure the whole House feels for people in that position. Insecurity in that kind of circumstance, where jobs are lost or people fear for their jobs, is something we all understand. The best way to deliver the security that everybody wants to see for their constituents in work is to continue the recovery that the Government have started, ensure that we keep interest rates low, have a thriving economy and support the small businesses up and down the country that are the engine of growth. That is what the Government’s plan for recovery is delivering.

One of the main contributors to the rise in the number of people feeling insecure at work is their inability to seek justice through the employment tribunals system. Data announced last week by solicitors Pinsent Masons showed that in some regions the number of employment tribunal claims had fallen by almost 80% since the introduction of fees, despite the Government’s impact assessment measuring it at just 20%. In the light of these figures, does the Minister agree that the level of fees is fundamentally restricting access to justice, and does she agree with the Scottish Women’s Convention that fees are disproportionately affecting women and they are discriminated against in the workplace?

The hon. Gentleman needs to be careful with his use of statistics, because we have introduced a range of changes to the tribunals system aimed at getting employers and employees to resolve disputes outside the tribunals system, which I would have thought everybody would welcome, given that tribunals are costly in terms of time, stress and money for everybody involved on both sides of the dispute. Our proposals, which we are implementing, on early conciliation and making it easier for disputes to be resolved should be working to reduce the number of tribunals, but the Ministry of Justice has committed to keeping these issues under review, particularly the equality aspects and whether there is any disproportionate effect on one particular group.