Zero-hours contracts – they can work

Once more in the news are Zero-hours contracts; they are the Marmite employment contract, it seems that we either love them or hate them!

We appear to be in a perpetual loop where employers are convinced that the flexibility that they offer suit many workers and unions remain convinced that zero-hours contracts are badly outdated.

Recent figures show that the number of people on zero-hours contracts have gone up by a fifth in the past year, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) says that almost 3 percent of the UK workforce are on one – that’s just over 900,000 people.

Ian Abel, Head of Employment, commented, “It’s obvious that they do work for some individuals where this type of contact suits them, in particular the flexibility of work is a major advantage for some. For employers the flexibility they offer is a huge advantage too, and they help businesses where they have fluctuations in demand, for example as we approach Christmas, or potential peak periods during the week.”

Ian continued, “There was public pressure for the government to crack down on exclusivity clauses in these contracts, and in fairness they did listen and now it is illegal for an exclusivity clause prohibiting the worker working for someone else, whilst contracted under a zero hours contract”

The ONS research also to shows that these contracts do work for the majority of workers, with two thirds of those on them not wanting additional hours; suggesting that 9-5, seven days a week just isn’t for everyone and that having irons in the fire might actually be a better work-life balance for some.

And we have to remember that individuals on these contracts do have employment rights which entitles them to holiday pay and other basic rights. What’s important today is that employers need to be allowed to explore the flexibility that a zero-hours workforce can provide to keep them competitive, and employees need the right protections in law. We are sure that somewhere there is a sensible middle ground, and many seem to find it.

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