The amount of workers in the UK currently on a zero hours contract stands at around 1.4 million. The contract has recently come under scrutiny as people have stated that workers on this contract are treated in a different manner to those on permanent contracts.
So what exactly is a zero hour contract?
A zero hours contract is an employment contract based on the premise that the employer is not obliged to give the worker any minimum hours and the employee is not obliged to agree to any of the hours offered, but are given employment on an ‘on call basis’. The employee only receives payment for the hours they have worked which can lead to understandable levels of stress concerning financial instability. These are used mainly for employers who need more flexible workforces when they are in need of temporary cover e.g. someone needed for a temporary placement to cover someone on bereavement leave, or for people in retail positions during busy seasons.
Business Secretary Vince Cable urges the right for staff to ask for a fixed term contract if they are on the zero hours contract. The new universal credit rule system has forced people to take on zero hours contracts or they will be sanctioned and their benefits may be cut. Employees also don’t get rights to holiday pay and sick pay, bringing up the argument that Britain is reverting back to older and harsher working methods.
There is more demand however, for employers to find a flexible workforce and this type of contract is still appealing to the elderly or students looking to earn some money, but still being able to manage other priorities. These types of employees would benefit from this type of contract, so would it be fair to completely ban it?
What are some more ways that employees can benefit from this type of contract?
- The contract provides flexible employment on the same terms as most fixed term workers
- No requirement to accept offers of work and no consequences
- Employment experience and skills
- Control your own earnings
- If you are in a specialist field, you can charge higher hourly rates
Working life today in Britain is now more focused on employees and their happiness – companies want their employees to be loyal, hard working and motivated to work. Many companies suffer a harsher backlash from consumers if they are seen to be immoral, especially through social media which can leave a longer lasting effect. Would companies really want to risk tarnishing their reputation by implementing this contract?
If this type of contract is necessary in your company, then you should be fair to your employees by treating them equal to full time employees, letting them know about any shortage of hours, being sure to guarantee them hours for some stability and be flexible and understanding with them.
What are your thoughts on the zero hours contract? Do you think it should be banned or refined?