The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment (SBEE) Bill reached its final stage in the House of Commons last week before it moves to the Lords for further consideration.
Whilst some of the Bill is a step in the right direction for helping small business, the government just haven’t gone far enough to improve the enforcement of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and to tackle the exploitative use of Zero Hour Contracts.
I’ve been vocal in my criticism of zero-hour contracts as I recognise that the exploitative use of these unfair contracts perpetuates poor working conditions. I also highlighted that although unemployment is falling, the tax take from income tax has remained the same. It’s time this Government recognises the root causes of the deficit rather than relying on quick fix solutions that harm working people.
We put forward a number of amendments during the consideration of the Bill to strengthen the enforcement of the NMW and to provide rights to those on zero hour contracts but Ministers didn’t accept them.
You can read more about my efforts here in my op-ed for Huffington Post UK.
Meanwhile, there was success to protect local publicans from the predatory practices of large pub owning companies (known as pubcos) with backing a new cross-party clause in the Bill.
The government’s provisions to regulate pubcos in the Small Business Bill, debated in Parliament this week, but these fell some way short of Labour’s plans and campaigners’ demands. Labour therefore supported a cross-party clause to strengthen the Bill.
The government opposed this change but were defeated by 284 votes to 269.