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Zero hours contracts

This type of contract does not guarantee work for an employee from one week to the next, so there is very little security of income for the employee. It is estimated that approximately 1 million people are currently working under a zero-hours contract.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have conducted a survey of people working on zero hours contracts, and have recently revealed their results. CIPD say that their survey shows UK workers on a zero hours’ contract are more likely to be happy with their work-life balance than other staff.  CIPD report that they questioned 456 zero-hours workers and found that just over half of them did not want to work more hours.
The survey did however highlight that there is a need to improve employers’ poor practice in things like giving correct notice periods when work is cancelled. Only around a third of the 1000 employers questioned had a formal policy or contractual terms regarding their approach to arranging and cancelling work for zero-hours workers.
Both employers and employees demonstrated that many of them were unaware of the employment rights they are entitled to, when working under a zero-hours contract which is concerning, and 40% of workers on zero-hours contracts said that they had had shifts cancelled without notice, which of course then leaves them without pay.
This highlights that zero-hours workers are really open to exploitation by employers and certainly this is something that should be addressed. The research certainly highlights that there is a real risk of bad practice and abuse by employers.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Whilst not every employee on a zero hours contract is exploited, this survey shows that job security and low pay are concerns for a significant number of workers. The real problems lie with bosses who aren’t interested in good practice and are more concerned with squeezing staff to boost their profit margins. That’s why we need legislative action to stamp out the growing abuse of workers on zero hours contracts and other forms of insecure work.”
Sarah Naylor, employment solicitor at Atherton Godfrey, said: “Arguably there is a place for zero hours contract, for example when a business has a need for someone with specialist skills that is not required all of the time. However, having said that it seems that consideration could be given to the use of such a person with specialist skills on a contractor basis rather than locking them into a zero-hours contract which does not guarantee regular work.
“The government will next launch a consultation on how to tackle abuses in zero hours contracts. CIPD disagree with this approach, stating that efforts should instead be focussed on improving understanding of these contracts and how they should be properly used within the law, rather than trying to restrict their use. It will certainly be an interesting review so watch this space!”
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