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Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government

First published:
6 December 2016
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

On 21 September 2016 the Public Services Staff Commission published their principles and guidance on the appropriate use of non guaranteed working hours arrangements in devolved public services in Wales.  Non guaranteed hours arrangements will encompass zero hour contracts.  

The Commission’s guidance and principles set out clear expectations on practices which all public sector employers should adopt in order to ensure non guaranteed hour arrangements, are only used in clearly and narrowly defined circumstances.  The principles were developed through close working with the Welsh Government’s Workforce Partnership Council and its subgroups in an example of practical social partnership.

These principles and guidance will help organisations avoid the inappropriate use of non guaranteed hours contracts within the Welsh public service.  

The Welsh Government is accordingly now issuing that guidance to all devolved public sector employers.  I want to stress the importance and priority the Welsh Government accords the fair and equitable treatment of the public sector workforce and the relationship between this and the delivery of excellent public services.  

Even when the use of non guaranteed hours constraints is consistent with the circumstances set out in the advice, the Commission concludes that their use should not be open ended.  I am working closely with the Minister for Social Services and Public Health to support her in the particular circumstances that affect social care, and to deliver our Programme for Government commitment to take action on limiting zero hours contracts.  

The Resolution Foundation recently reported that in the UK some 400,000 people over 25 years old have been on zero hours contracts with the same employer for more than 12 months.  The guidance published today proposes that organisations should ensure staff can request a review of their working arrangements with a view to changing their contractual arrangement if they have been undertaking regular hours over a continuous period of time and they should also have access to the same pay progression as full time employees.  Our guidance says that staff who do not accept work for whatever reason should not suffer a detriment as regards being offered work in the future.

I am keen that the Guidance and Principles are adopted across the devolved public sector and applied in local circumstances, through social partnership, based on the type and scope of services.  I therefore intend to review, through the Workforce Partnership Council, whether the guidance has been sufficiently embedded by 2018 and identify where both unions and employers have used the principles and guidance effectively and where they need to be better embedded to drive change.  If there is evidence that the guidance has not been adopted well I would then be minded to make its application mandatory.  

The guidance has been published here: