zero hour contracts


| 56 Posts


27 Nov, 2013 09:46

As the parent of a son subject to one of these I strongly disagree with the assertion that they are unfairly demonised. The social implications have not been taken into account. Moreover I would say that the working population of this county is currently divided between permament employees who enjoy considerable security and the rest.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 7569 Posts

    Community Manager

    27 Nov, 2013 10:06

    I'm assuming Julie is referring to this new major piece of CIPD research, which was published yesterday.

    Zero-hours contracts have been unfairly demonised and oversimplified, finds new CIPD research

    ...and the previous discussion (from August):

    Zero hours contracts in the news


  • Robey

    | 1581 Posts

    Chartered Member

    27 Nov, 2013 10:25

    From my own experience of zero-hours contracts (from both sides of the looking glass), the article and Peter's analysis seem very balanced and sensible:

    Employees on zero-hours contracts can be vulnerable to unfair treatment and good practice dictates that sensible and intelligent policies should be developed by responsible employers to ensure that this does not happen and that employees on ZHCs are treated fairly.

    However, it also shows that, in the majority of cases, employers aren't treating ZHCs unfairly and that the flexibility of the ZHC bends both ways.

    I'd be delighted to hear more about Julie's and her son's experience and to offer what advice I can, but I do think that the minority of cases in which unfair and unsatisfactory treatment occurs doesn't undermine the fact that, in the majority, ZHCs are happy with their conditions and how they are treated.  It just support's Peter's assertion that better procedures need to be put in place to support good practice.

  • I think Robey's points are well made. Having awoken to the sounds of Radio 4 on my day off yesterday, i heard Peter's comments live (though I was only just).

    It is surely more about good and bad employers with shades in between.  'Twas ever thus!

    All that said, I start suspicious with zero hours contracts until shown otherwise.  But even worse, IMHO, are 10 hour contracts that regularly offer 40 hours work at single time, but are never levelled up, thus denying holidays, redundancy pay etc.


  • Steve Bridger

    | 7569 Posts

    Community Manager

    27 Nov, 2013 16:02

    It is surely more about good and bad employers with shades in between.  'Twas ever thus!

    Indeed, Nick. A point made by CIPD's Deputy CEO, Susannah Clements, on the Guardian today.

    Zero-hours contracts aren't the problem. Poor management is

  • Steve Bridger

    | 7569 Posts

    Community Manager

    28 Nov, 2013 15:28

    Susannah Clements has posted the following on a similar LinkedIn discussion thread this afternoon...

    Hello all

    I think our position is - solve the employment problem, don't blame the contract ! The research we did shows that the majority of the people on ZHCs are happy to be on them, enjoy the flexibility they offer, get the hours they want and don't see this as a problem.

    There are plenty of pensioners, students, working parents, and people who are "bank staff" (ie have another job and use this as a way of topping up) on these contracts, and they do like the flexibility that they get, so the case for "banning" them doesn't stand up.

    We absolutely started from a recognition that there is poor practice out there. One of the core parts of the work we published on Tuesday was a good practice guide, which we'll be submitting to the forthcoming Government consultation on this issue. There is a case for building our work in to a formalised code of conduct for this type of contract. We've addressed, for example, issues such as enforcing exclusivity (ie people can't work for anyone else - which our research suggests happens in about 9% of cases), and in penalising people for not taking work when it is offered (about 3% of contracts). This kind of poor practice should be stamped out.

    The main issues arise when the individuals are low paid (and not all ZHC people are low paid, contrary to popular belief), have very variable hours and insecurity of employment. 38% of ZHC employees want more hours - but there again so do 30% of part time employees, where many of these problems are also seen (eg with a small number of base hours guaranteed and massively variable "top ups"). I don't see anyone arguing that we should dispense with part time contracts ! Having a contract at all is, however, better than many of the casual or piecework arrangements that we used to see - holiday pay, for example, is a legal requirement under a ZHC - not paying it is unlawful.

    So, as with most things, it's a much more nuanced debate than it appears in the press!


  • I work for a small independant charity, a few of our employees work under a ZHC as second jobs and it works extremely well on both sides, we give them advanced notice of the shifts available and there are no penalties if they are unable to cover, if our circumstances change but we cannot give adequate notice that they are no longer required then we honor our commitment.

    My daughter however worked for a large corporate company on a ZHC she was not permitted to work anywhere else as had to be available at all times, some weeks she would not be given any hours and other weeks she would be given hours and then receive telephone calls within minutes of leaving for her shift to tell her she is no longer require, on one occasion she actually travelled to work over 18 miles to then be told she was not required, she became unwell during a shift and her supervisor sent her home, the next day she was still unwell so phoned and apologised when she next went to work she was called into the office and given a verbal warning. She was on minimum wage.  Good practice I think not, thankfully she no longer works for this organisation and never will again.

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