Employers who offer zero hour contracts are often frowned upon or accused of exploiting their staff. 20,000 employees are now on a zero hour contract the numbers have doubled since 2010 so they are becoming more popular.
Carol Hibbard, 67 years old from Jersey discussed how she felt on the zero hour contract at her age:
“I have been working since the age of 14 on a full time, permanent contract until I turned 64. Despite the fact that I could have retired by this age, I love working so much but with my age I find I am more tired and my energy levels are lower so working full time could not have been an option for me and the sake of my health”
“What did you do when you realized that you could not work under full time employment?”
“I was informed by my daughter that there is a special contract called zero hours now, she said that I could work with flexible hours and choose whether or not I am fit to go into work without being obliged to do so either way. So, I looked around the local jobs being offered and I found one in a small but local bakery that offered me the job under a zero hour contract”
“How did you find the contract? Did you feel pressured or confused by the spontaneous hours?”
“Well, no, I did not because I spoke to the very reasonable boss and she told me that I could work afternoons, three times a week with the days that can be chosen by myself. It is a fantastic opportunity and I just find that these zero hour contracts are so worth it. People say moan about zero hour contracts but they surely benefit the elderly”
Lance Averie is a student at the university of Birmingham studying Medicine, ever since the age of 16 he has worked on a zero hour contract. In the audio below Lance discusses how he feels about the contract as to whether or not it is a form of exploitation for the working class.
Guy Standing, The Guardian states:
“We need a radical rethink, Successive governments are responsible for the tragedy unfolding around the precariat, not the victims who are now being demonised, victimised and impoverished”
Precariat is sociological , economic terms is a society in which the labour market is exploited into a condition of existence with no security or predictability. This is what the zero hour contractors are offered, whilst labor workers are offered these contracts, government party members, celebrities and bankers are paid by the millions with complete stability.
Graham Manley; “footballers and bankers are getting hundreds of thousands in tax cuts whilst the poor get zero hour contracts”
Zero hour contracts are meant to be created for big businesses during peak times such as during Christmas periods. Yet they are becoming more popular within a full time basis, more and more businesses are ‘jumping on the wagon’.
Alexandra Mcleod, trainee Primary school teacher discusses how zero contract hours have affected her career options:
“In order to pursue my degree as a primary school teacher I have had to undertake a lot of training and work experience. They offered my experience in a Greek Primary school on zero hour contract, they had me working overtime, some days they would call me in and realize they had nothing organised and so would send me home. It took me 2 hours to get home, it made me feel under appreciated and as if they were just laughing at me”
The number of contractors have doubled between 2004-2011. Will the levels of employers taking on the ‘casual worker contracts’ rise?
Zero hour contracts are designed for ‘on call’ measures where staff can be rung on a daily basis to work a shift and are obliged to do it. This contract is far more fitting to the larger businesses since more staff are needed during busy periods yet less during times of economic drought.
Simply Docs is a website for employers stating all of the different business laws and contracts, under the zero hour contract it states:
” Zero hours contracts are used to cope with varying staff requirements, where the Employer is under no obligation to offer an Employee work but, when it does, the Employee is required to accept the offer.”
However according to The Employment Document company, zero hour contracts are unnecessary for big businesses but for short term projects or when businesses temporarily demand rises. Kane Jackson (20) once got offered a zero hour contract.
“I was offered zero hours contract at Harvey Nicols in Birmingham, I turned down the job. I just felt as if I was taken advantage of as I was clearly a student that was desperate for a job and I felt like they were exploiting my desperation to their needs.”
Despite the differences on employees favoring the casual workers contract, there is however a 23% rise in Britain’s working on this contract. Labour MPs have described the contract as a throwback to the Victorian era and are being used to avoid the agency-workers contract whereby employees are given the same terms and conditions are permanent staff members after 12 weeks. Kane Jackson:
“I see this contract as a very clever manipulation on employees, it is exploitation at its finest”
Phillip Inman from the Guardian supports Kane’s perception of the contract by posting:
“All the obligations are on one side of the contract. Yes, times are tough, but employers are going too far.”
For more information on Zero hour contracts or more any more opinion please follow the link below. It also discusses how the health sector is being affected by the contract.
For students to work on a zero contract hour it may face them with the decision between keeping their contract or continuing their course. But for some people the contract means a lot more too them than a little bit of extra cash, Christopher Gorin from Jersey, Channel Islands is a single parents on a zero contract hour.
” Me and my wife divorced ten years ago and ever since then I have been on a zero contract hour. I work in the field of carpentry so whenever a house needs refurbishing, a door needs to be fixed or a wall needs to be painted, I will be rung. Living on such a small Island means that work can be constant at times yet there is never the security of not having any work for a good few months. During these months of no work I suffer a lot of stress and sleepless nights”
“I have a daughter who goes to university and her income for her tuition fees, for her living and general education relies on myself. Of course her mother would also help but I want her to know that I have a full support as well otherwise it takes away my place as a father. Living in a rented flat with another man is my only option for living since I simply cannot afford the mortgage and with my contract I cannot support every bill that is given to me. My flat mate is helpful as he understands my stress so in times of financial drought he is always there to help me out. For myself, the zero hour contract is the only work I can manage to get and believe me I have tried. But I find them unreliable and as a means for exploitation of the working class. “
The zero hour contracts is at times the only option for a single parents as employment levels around the UK are at a low. Another issue that single parents face is when their child is too young to be educated, if they are called in for work last minute, how can they make sure they have organised a baby sitter? Not having any support from the other parents means that a zero hour contract can be living hell for a single parent and may cause them to loose their job without having anyone to look after their child.
ACAS an employer and employee rights specialist specified the extensive work a zero hour contractor must endure in order to receive holiday or sick pay.
“Holiday pay can only be calculated according to how much money is being earned by the employee weekly, the worker must be earning over £109 a week”
With the minimum wage in England currently being £6.19 per hour, employee would need to be working over 18 hours per week. A student at Birmingham City University, Alex Harvey works for the agency Rouge Recruitment argued about these rights:
“Its very unlikely that I would receive holiday pay for the hours of work I get, employers seem to exploit workers with the zero contract hour as they will never give us a solid £109 per week just so we are not entitled to the holiday pay, its ridiculous”
When it comes to dismissal of employees a representative at ACAS stated that from the 6th April 2012 employees must have worked a 2 year service with the zero hour contract in order to have the right to send in a complaint on how/when/where they were dismissed. This mean that unless an employee has worked for a company within this period of time then the employer has the right to dismiss a worker at any given point in time. The employment laws with the zero hour contract suggests that it offers flexibility both for the employer and employee.”
When it comes to sick pay, an employee will receive money if they earn over £12 per hour of which they will then receive 7% of their daily hours pay. However, with the minimum wage only being £6.19 per hour employers would need to earn almost double that amount in order to receive sick pay. Their are currently no signs of law changes being enforced with the zero hour contracts.
Luke Parr a student at Birmingham City University found his zero hour contract favorable in relation to his course. He remained to work for three and a half months on the contract last summer and is hoping to find another job offering this year.
“it was really good working a zero hour contract whilst being a student because there was no interviews or anything to get the job you just signed a few pieces of paper and then you were assigned a job and there was in my case regular money coming through each week.”
The hours offered by his agency, proactive personell, were tough as Luke found himself working the ‘twilight shift’ which was 3:45pm-1am from Monday-Thursday. This particular agency offers work for temporary to permanent staff members yet the laws and regulations of employee contracts are completely different.
Since Luke was on a zero hour contract he was given very little notice before his first shift luckily it was summer so the time allowance favored his lack of commitment to his course since it was the summer break. For a student to work on a zero hour contract during the semesters, the lack of notice before a shift would cause a student to decide between a lecture or paid work.
My personal experience from working at Rouge recruitment on a zero hour contract whilst being a student, led me to leaving this particular agency due to the lack of notice before any of my shifts. The agency would ring you from 3 hours to a nights notice before a shift and expect you to catch an early train that could last 4 hours to get to a job where you might only be there for 2 or 3 hours causing you to travel a total of 8 hours for a short shift. This way I would have lost money whilst missing a lecture which would essentially sacrifice my grades and possibly even my place on the course.
Luke also mentioned in the interview that once you call off sick their is a fear of losing your job as agencies such as proactive personell, may choose another of their numerous ‘zero hour’ employees to cover your shift and potentially dismiss you altogether due to your lack of attendance.
“I just find that with these zero hour contracts, you can be exploited as a worker and not as a human, you loose your identity’