Assembly rejects Sinn Fein bid to ban zero-hours contracts

A Sinn Fein attempt to outlaw zero-hour contracts has been defeated in the Assembly.

Fermanagh MLA Phil Flanagan had tabled an amendment to the Employment Bill which would have banned all zero-hours contracts – not just zero-hours contracts which contain exclusivity clauses.

Some MLAs expressed concerns about the implications of such a move on substitute teachers and bank nurses.

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Employment Minister Stephen Farry warned that it could “create chaos in the health and education systems”.

The amendment was voted down by 56 votes to 37.

Mr Flanagan withdrew another amendment which would have required companies with 50 or more employees to publish data on the extent of the pay gap within their own organisation and carry out an equal pay audit.

A bid by NI21 leader Basil McCrea to increase the time in which employers could dismiss new employees without paying redundancy from one year to two years was also defeated by 56 votes to 37.