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Zero Hours Contracts

Zero Hours Contracts

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In New Zealand we refer to these as "As-And-When-Required" agreements, and while they are very common in seasonal situations, it is not uncommon for them to apply all year round.

 For us they bring  particular legal issues particularly around payment for public holidays, as well as where the days and hours establish a 'regular' pattern.

They are most common in workplaces that can be adversely affected by the likes of weather; availability of product; storage space; etc.

One of the adverse aspects of zero contracts reported in the article was people not knowing what their income would be for the week or fortnight.  Here, we tend to address that by stipulating a minimum weekly/fortnightly payment, but that was not mentioned.  There was also quite some emphasis on the propensity to dim loyalty/employee engagement/enthusiasm about work.

I would be very interested to read the experiences of members of HRZone.

Cheers.  Don Rhodes.


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21st Aug 2013 16:42

They're very useful but they are open to abuse and I think like all powerful things, they need regulating to ensure that they don't get abused. The biggest criticism in the UK is that workers aren't assured regular income and therefore can't plan monthly outgoings, such as rent and bills. Another common criticism is that hours can drop suddenly, leaving people (particularly vulnerable workers, such as single mothers, who may benefit the most from the flexibility of zero hour contracts), with insufficient money to cover outgoings.

It sounds Don like the minimum payment is a good way to alleviate these concerns, no such system is mandatory in the UK at the moment and I would imagine very few employers would - at the moment - do this voluntarily, particularly the bigger employers as it would make the use of zero-hour contracts less economical. With the pressure currently building, however, and the likelihood of a Government review, we may find these do become mandatory alongside other measures designed to prevent abuse.

They can be very useful to those who need flexibility which is why I'd hate to see them go. The Confederation of British Industry recently said without them unemployment would be a bigger problem. Although they obviously exist to promote the agenda of British businesses, and zero hour contracts are very useful to the employer, I think there is merit in this statement.

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