Public Pressure To End Zero Hour Contracts
As you may have heard in the news recently several companies who have been using zero hour contracts as standard for their staff have experienced negative publicity in the press and on social media and are now agreeing to change terms for their employees.
The misuse of zero hour contracts was brought to the forefront following scrutiny and heavy criticism that Sports Direct have been under about the way in which they have been treating their staff. An investigation by the Guardian revealed the way in which employees were treated by Sports Direct with some reports describing it as being like a Victorian workhouse! The reports also identified that causal workers on zero hour contracts were actually being paid less than the national minimum wage.
In order to try to repair their reputation with the public Sports Direct, amongst other things, have agreed to offer those on zero hours a guaranteed contract with at least 12 hours per week.
Several other employers are now following Sports Direct with Greene King, JD Wetherspoon and Everyman Cinema’s pledging to give employees the chance to change from zero hours to permanent contracts with guaranteed hours.
These announcements coincide with news from a recent survey undertaken by the union Unite which found that 6 out of 10 workers would support the abolition of zero hour contracts. Public pressure coupled with a majority support from both Conservative and Labour politicians means that it is looking increasingly likely that there will be some legislative change in the near future to outlaw zero hour contracts altogether.
What is interesting is that several employers are now using the public opinion about zero hour contracts in their recruitment advertising to appeal to candidates by stating that they do not use zero hour contracts. In industries where it can be hard to recruit good staff, such as the caring profession, it is a really good way of appealing to candidates and showing that you are an employer who will be fair and look after employees.
My opinion is that if used in the correct way zero hour contracts can enable flexibility within your workforce, which is needed in certain industries including tourism where there are clearly seasonal fluctuations, however they should not be used as a means to deny employees employment rights. In light of the current public opinion on the use of zero hour contracts you may want to reconsider how you are using them and whether it is still the most appropriate contracts for your staff and business.
If you would like advice and assistance on making the transition or are unsure how a change to guaranteed hours will make a difference to your business do get in touch for a no obligation discussion Alison@realemploymentlawadvice.co.uk or 023 8098 2006 or 01983 897003.