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Zero hours contracts

Discussion in 'off topic' started by hifinutt, Sep 21, 2022 at 2:40 PM.

  1. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    What do you guys think about zero hours contracts ? Got a family member with loads of bills employed by a agency who work for a major Car company you all know . They decided to drop his shifts to one a week or less after many years of working there ... So now he is on the breadline .

    Zero-hours contracts are the pantomime villains of today’s flexible/insecure labour market. Abolition of “abusive” zero-hours contracts is at, or near, the top of every union wish list seemingly irrespective of the problem said wish list aims to tackle.

    Furthermore, voters seem to think the same way. According to a sample of the adult population surveyed by YouGov in March, 64% thought “zero-hours contracts are normally a bad thing – they don’t provide any security and allow employers to exploit their workers” and 57% thought they should be abolished with just 21% disagreeing. Although, it’s interesting to note that opinion wasn’t so clear-cut among 18-24 year-olds, who are most likely to actually be employed on a zero-hours contract.

    The debate too often focuses on the extremes. Whereas the reality is more mixed; they work well for some people and not so well for others. Zero-hours contracts probably work best for people like students – after all, one-fifth of working students have a zero-hours contract. And they probably work worst for those with fixed, regular out-goings, which is probably why they are so rare among 25-54 year olds.
  2. clivem2

    clivem2 pfm Member

    There are some for whom zero hours contracts work but for most they are crap…part of the reason we’re a low wage economy.
    hifinutt likes this.
  3. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    I have had two LONG spells of unemployment over the years and was forced into, but very much enjoyed, contract work for a while (I enjoyed the huge hourly rate too....).

    Zero hours contracts suit a huge number or people - PLENTY are on record all over media saying so.

    So long as everything is kosher, people know what they are vgetting into, so whay should outsiders rock the boat?
  4. gintonic

    gintonic 50 shades of grey pussy cats

    my students love them. My SiL loves hers.
    Vinny likes this.
  5. Ponty

    Ponty pfm Member

    They suit some and not others (both employees and employers). Horses for courses.
    Vinny likes this.
  6. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    I was working for Caterpillar around 10 years ago when that HUGE downturn in construction hit.
    The shopfloor was something like 30% contractors, and very, very likely still is - they were told on a Friday, not to turn-up on the Monday, and they weren't on zero hours.
    It is just how very many businesses stay in business these days - it was very similar when I worked for a company in Paignton around 15 years before that.
  7. Brian

    Brian Eating fat, staying slim

    Zero hours contracts not only allow, but encourage exploitation of workers. For that reason they should be stopped.
  8. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    My question is, how do they allow the employer to exploit the worker more than regular contracts? I can see that they may allow for different forms of exploitation, but it needs to be explored.

    In public sector primary and secondary education, schoolteachers and school management on the payroll have lifetime contracts and are represented by trade unions. They are exploited ruthlessly by their employers. Supply teachers and temporary managers are often on zero hours contracts and are less susceptible to suffering exploitation - though the school will certainly try! Of course, they get no sick pay or holiday pay perks, but that’s another matter.
  9. snowflake

    snowflake Former Albino Ape

    I could be a bit thick, but how do they benefit an employee? Or can you have a hundred zero hours contracts with different employers and just take work with the first one on offer, or are you bound to a single company who won't guarantee you any work?

    ks.234 likes this.
  10. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    so in this case they allow the employer to give 7 days a weeks shifts to some workers and 1 shift to another . if they dont have the shifts available then there is often disparity of allocation. One cannot pay rent and bills on one shift a week sadly .
  11. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    They suit folk who just want to pick up a day or an evening now and again, e.g. you are semi-retired but fancy doing a day a week or occasional evening as an Uber driver to boost your income. There are loads of scenarios where it could be a very good way of working, but I’d not want a full-time job on that basis. It would be great for musos looking for a fill-in between gigs or whatever too, students looking for some casual work etc. In concept I have nothing against it, but I’m someone who has never wanted a conventional job. Even back when I was an IT contractor (which is kind of the same thing!) I tried to get a contract for a couple of months and then take a month off before the next one. I’ve always valued time and freedom above money and this can in some situations place that power with the employee. It is abused though, some of the poorly paid warehouse and delivery jobs sound like hell on earth.
    Vinny likes this.
  12. colasblue

    colasblue pfm Member

    I did contract work for several years, including some on a piecework basis where the principal is not obliged to supply any work.

    Swings and Roundabouts IMHO. In the best times the rate of pay could be vastly better than any employed position, and prior to IR35 very tax efficient too. Not too clever if the work dried up though.

    It suits some people very well, particularly if you're a professional, well established and financially secure.

    Pretty lousy though if you're on the breadline and not getting enough work.

    In most cases in my world you're effectively buying in to the ups and downs of the principle's business, taking greater risk in the expectation of greater reward. I suspect that doesn't really have any parallel at the lower end of the spectrum though.

    The thing I got sick of though was the inability to plant any roots since contracts are inevitably for less then two years so you're almost always "weekend commuting".

    I went into Academia but I've recently left that since it's become an extremely toxic environment to work in. World of the badly paid, insecure job with no prospects and an employer you can never please!

    I'm not sure if I'm retired or not. Might go back to contracting.
  13. dweezil

    dweezil pfm Member

    OH does something similar, three employers at the moment i think and she picks the jobs that suit or cover mileage twice.

    They're always short of workers so it's flexible. Largest pays the first PAYE and they all accrue holiday.

    If times clash they have to deal with it.

    She wouldn't put up with anything approaching exploitation.
  14. KrisW

    KrisW pfm Member

    The exploitation is that many such contracts place the employee under obligation to take work at short notice, but place no similar obligation upon the employer to offer work. These contracts also normally require you to be “available” for a fixed number of hours a week, and put a limit on the amount of hours you may offer to any another employer, and at what periods. Both of these factors are loss of freedom around how the employee can use their time, without any compensation for that loss.

    They are very different from self-employed contracting, because a self-employed contractor gets to decide whether or not they want to seek work, and when: they can decide to take long breaks away from contracting, or take on multiple jobs at once - the only obligation is to meet the terms that they agree with the client. By contrast, someone under a zero-hour employment contract is bound to reserve a percentage of their time for a single employer, and failure to take offered hours usually results in being excluded from further offers. These things are basically all the disadvantages of being self-employed, but with all the disadvantages of employment too.

    As with all kinds of flexible work, it gets more unfair the lower down the pay scale you get. It’s all very well to take a punt on picking up some extra £40/hr work-hours in a week, but much less so when you’re depending on securing sufficient £10/hr work. I imagine anyone on this forum is much more likely to be in the first pay category, or much higher...

    I don’t like them, but for me the point is moot because I’ll never see one. Except for some very specific cases, zero-hours contracts are effectively illegal here in Ireland: under Irish law, employers can still make a “zero hour” contract, but they must pay a minimum of 25% of the on-call period if the employee isn’t called for work.
    Sue Pertwee-Tyr, Cav, Brian and 2 others like this.
  15. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    It would be hopeless for getting a mortgage too. I had to take a permanent IT role on between a third and half what my contract rate had been to be able to secure a mortgage back in the early 2000s. Just ridiculous really. An unskilled or semi-skilled ZHC would ensure no financial security at all. I’d be surprised if some landlords would take a tenant on that basis too. Great for a secondary income, hopeless for a primary.
  16. colasblue

    colasblue pfm Member

    Actually not so much these days. Provided you haver some sort of deposit and can demonstrate consistent income lenders are fairly relaxed about contractors.

    That obviously depends on the level at which you play the game though and I'm in senior exec roles as opposed to pizza delivery.
  17. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Yes, that’s true. They’re only a satisfactory solution for people who are looking for a bit of pocket money, maybe retired folk with a decent pension or the spouse of someone with a reliable and sufficient income. Or they are good for someone who are operating in a market where labour demand is greater than labour supply. This used to be the case, maybe still is, in London for teachers who were willing and able to work in so called failing schools which were in “special measures”
  18. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    I did it for a bit when I returned to full time education a while back. It actually worked out really well for me - I could take shifts when I wasn't so busy with college work or refuse them during busier times of the year. The organisation didn't make any demands for a minimum number of shifts but I think they were a reasonably enlightened employer.

    I was really glad of the cash but wouldn't want to have needed to rely on it to pay a mortgage.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2022 at 8:03 PM
  19. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Ah, I wasn’t aware of this, thanks. I didn’t know there was an obligation for the worker to be available etc. That makes things very different.
  20. Brian

    Brian Eating fat, staying slim

    I work part time though I’m in a professional IT job. The sort of general ‘part time’ I see advertised is the likes of 8 hours guaranteed but to be available at all other times to cover sick and holiday absence of others. It’s abusing the employee and should be illegal to offer such terms.
    hifinutt and mandryka like this.

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