Banning zero-hours contracts would be ‘ridiculous’, says REC chief executive

06 - 08 - 2013

The call for zero-hours contracts to be banned has been branded as ‘ridiculous’ by Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) chief executive Kevin Green.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) recently uncovered that up to one million UK workers are on zero-hour contracts. This is four times more than previously thought.

According to the CIPD research, which was based on a survey of 1,000 firms, up to 4% of the workforce in the UK is on zero-hours contracts.
The contracts, which allow employers to employ individuals without any guarantee of hours or pay, have been criticised by many politicians and trade unions.
One in seven employees that responded to the survey felt that their employer gave them insufficient hours to provide a basic standard of living.
The research also found that people employed on a zero hour contract were twice as likely to be among either the youngest workers (aged 18 to 24) or oldest workers (over 55).

‘Some exploitation’

Business Secretary, Vince Cable – who announced a review into the use of the controversial contracts last month – has expressed concern that there was ‘some exploitation’ of workers on the contracts.

However, he acknowledged that in many in some cases the flexibility offered by such contracts may be fitting for employees.

‘It can work for the worker as well as the employer,’ he said.

Nothing ‘inherently wrong’

REC chief executive Kevin Green has argued that there is nothing ‘inherently wrong’ with zero-hours contracts, as long as they are managed properly with good communication between employer and employee.

‘Flexible work contracts allow businesses to handle fluctuations in demand and the opportunity to vary the hours they work can be good for people who don't want to commit to a daily 9-to-5 routine,’ he said.

He also refuted claims that employees on zero-hours contracts are not entitled to the same statutory benefits as other employees.

‘Employees on zero-hours contracts have the same statutory rights to holiday pay, sick pay and the national minimum wage as any other employee,’ he said.

‘No choice’

However, general secretary of the Unison union has spoken out against the contracts, saying that many workers are only on such contracts because ‘they have no choice’.

‘[Zero-hours contracts] may give flexibility to a few, but the balance of power favours the employers and makes it hard for workers to complain,’ he said.

‘You feel bullied’

Karen, an employee on a zero-hours contract in the adult social care sector, described her working lifestyle.

‘You feel bullied. You start at 06:30am, could work till 11:30am, then be told there's no more work for you today,’ she said.

‘But if you say you can't work that day they don't tend to ring you again because they say you're not turning up - it makes you feel unworthy.’

A decision will be made in September on whether or not to hold a formal consultation on specific proposals related to zero-hours contracts.







Foremans LLP Umberlla
Foremans LLP