Zero hours contracts – the stigma

Who works zero-hours contracts?
Who works zero-hours contracts?

Many argue that zero hour contracts do not offer sufficient financial stability and security for people with more responsibility and as the employer is not obliged to offer any hours of work, it is argued that those on zero hours struggle to get sufficient hours each week. The ONS maintains that two thirds of workers on zero hours are contented and that their average number of hours per week is around 25.

Workers on zero hours do not have the same employment rights as those on full-time contracts and this worries many critics who say that these contracts are used as a tool by employers to avoid their responsibilities to workers and employees and cut costs. Indeed, the status of those working on ‘zero hours’ can be unclear as not all companies recognise them as employees and only with employee status do they have rights including minimum notice, redundancy and unfair dismissal. A zero hour contract defines the employment relationship and as usually there is no obligation to offer work or accept it (no ‘mutuality of obligation’) the hired person is defined as a worker (less rights) rather than an employee.

Exclusivity has been a major point of contention in zero hour contracts, meaning that a company retains the right for the worker to work for them alone and no one else, even if they give workers no hours. The coalition government recently (May 2015) outlawed this practice in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and made provision for further changes by the Secretary of State for Business, innovation and skills if necessary. In the following case studies we have garnered the opinion of companies and experts for the truth about zero hour contracts.

In tomorrow’s instalment of this series, we hear from Michelle Wright, founder and CEO of Cause4…