It is believed that almost 200,000 workers are now working under a ‘zero hours’ contract. These startling statistics from the Office of National Statistics show that many workers are kept on standby and are the fastest rising job type hitting the Uk at present.
This is represented by a number of methods, these being piece work payment, on call work and commission-only based incomes. It is thought that up to a quarter of UK’s major employers including McDonald’s and Poundland are implementing this tactic which overalls employment laws and minimum pay requirements. Although often stated as temporary contacts, this idea is being used by employers to avoid agency-worker regulations, which entitle agency staff to the same basic terms and conditions as permanent employees after 12 weeks.
The agreements have been heavily criticised, with UNISON claiming they “present huge drawbacks in comparison to permanent regular work”.
Employers justify these contracts because of the difficult business conditions economically as well as to employees who would prefer more flexible working alongside their family commitments. However many workers are taking the contracts as a last resort just so they have some income coming in although they often feel grave uncertainty for their household commitments and future career path.
Sarah Veale, head of the equality and employment rights department at the TUC, said: “It is a sign of desperation that people will take anything at the moment. We’re not valuing people, we’re just looking at them as industrial fodder.”
In contrast Kevin Green, chief executive, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) Said “Using zero hours has been a way to keep staff costs down, and therefore stay afloat.
He continued saying that it is better to have any job than no job at all, and added: “You could be saying this is keeping 200,000 people in work who may not have been in work if it wasn’t for these sorts of contracts.”