working hours

The number of workers on zero-hours contracts has risen steadily over the past few years. There are now 744,000 people working on these contracts in the UK. But what are they, and are they a good thing for employees?

A zero-hours contract is an employment contract that doesn’t guarantee a minimum number of hours in a week. If you work to one, you might not get called in to work at all…but the upside is that you can turn down any shifts that do come up.

They’ve become very common over the past few years, particularly in sectors like retail and hospitality. Some of the biggest restaurant, pub and retail chains in the country use them extensively, indicating that they’re a great deal, at least from the employers’ perspective.

Employers and workers alike are fans of the contracts because of the flexibility they allow. This is especially the case since May, when the government banned companies from including clauses stating that workers were not allowed to register for work anywhere 22 Jump Street movie now

The flexibility is great for people such as students or those needing a bit of extra cash, but many others report it’s extremely difficult to make ends meet, or to plan for the future, when they aren’t sure how much they will be earning over the coming weeks.

There are lots of situations where someone would value flexibility as much as stability. If somebody is raising a family on minimum wage for example (most zero-hours contracts pay no more than this), you can imagine they might value a steady income more than the ease of taking a day off.

Employers are also not obligated to offer benefits such as sick pay or pension plans to contracted employees. In many ways, a zero-hours contract can be thought of as a ‘step up’ to permanent work and many workers do take them with the impression (whether right or wrong) that they will eventually be given a permanent position once they have proven themselves for a number of months.

Certainly, without zero-hours contracts, there would not be as many jobs available in the retail and hospitality sectors, but the jobs that would exist might be more secure and better paid.

There are definitely two sides to the issue, but here at Blue Octopus, we advertise and place permanent roles only, as we think these offer the best deal for job seekers. Do you have experience with zero-hours contracts? How did they suit your needs? Please let us know in the comments!

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