The number of major employers in Britain using zero-hour contracts for staff has risen to almost a quarter.
A study by the Workplace Employment Relations found that firms using some zero-hour contracts have risen from 4% in 2004 to 23% in 2011.
Having a zero-hour contract denies workers regular hours and basic terms and conditions that are given to agency workers. Employers argue that zero-hour contracts provide workers with the flexibility to juggle family responsibilities but many jobs advertised on zero-hour contracts require high levels of skill and knowledge.
A significant rise was noted within the health sector last year meaning professional workers found themselves tied to rotas that could be changed at 24 hours notice.
Zero-hour contracts mean that workers are not guaranteed a particular number of hours work. Labour MPs and unions say this is a throwback to the Victorian era and that zero-hour contracts are used by employers trying to avoid agency-worker regulations, which entitle agency staff to the same basic terms and conditions as permanent employees after 12 weeks.
The Labour Research Department, which studies employment trends, said there were occasions when a no-strings-attached arrangement might suit workers, “such as sometimes occurs with bank nursing or supply teaching. But it is increasingly being used to replace proper secure employment with its associated guaranteed level of paid work and other benefits.”
It added: “Even worse, it can be applied in such a way that a worker, in order to have any chance of getting paid work, is obliged to be available for work at the whim of the employer and so cannot commit themselves to any other employment.”
Andrew is a Commercial & Employment Law solicitor in Leicester. Our Solicitors in Leicester are experts in their fields and dedicated to quality client care. If you would like to find out more about our solicitors in Leicester please contact us.
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