Care about Workers: Stand Against Zero Hour Contracts | LabourBlawg

Care about Workers: Stand Against Zero Hour Contracts

by Hibberts on November 5, 2013

There are now a million zero-hour employees in Britain. With enough members of the public out of work during this economic downturn, people are desperate for any earning opportunities they can get their hands on. Even if that means that hours aren’t fixed and neither is their pay cheque. One month can be spent working yourself into the ground, while you could have scant hours to work the month after. This kind of life can be hard to sustain; even more so if you provide for your family.

The Culprits

McDonald’s hires 90% of its staff on a zero-hours basis. But they’re not the only ones. Other companies who’re guilty of hiring employees on a zero-hours contract include Sports Direct and (unfortunately) charities like the National Trust. In the private sector, 17% of employees are on zero-hours contracts; that also goes for 24% of workers in the public sector, and 34% in the voluntary sector. Zero hour contracts are more prolific than perhaps we originally thought.

How This Impacts Individuals and Families

It’s especially difficult to get small bank loans or mortgages, when your pay is so volatile; good luck getting a foot on the property ladder or putting down a borrowed deposit on an apartment.

The extra bad news is that zero-hours contracts disproportionately affect women, who can find themselves in difficult living conditions, as a result. Often, due to lack of funds, this can mean being stuck in abusive relationships to survive financially. We all know how unforgiving the state is to people who are out of work and relying on the welfare state.

Medical and food provisions may be difficult to buy, during a month when you’ve had very little work, which can be a huge blow to your wellbeing and happiness. Not knowing whether you’ll be able to scrape by, in the long term, can take its toll on mental health. Not only have studies shown that zero-contract hours are linked to lower levels of wellbeing and higher levels of anxiety, but also serious depression…which can have potentially lethal consequences, if left untreated.

Excess stress can lead to illness, so if your zero hour contract is having a negative impact on your health, contact employment law for advice on a range of matters related to employment law.

Hits the Most Vulnerable Groups

This impacts heavily on the children of families relying on zero-hour contracts. The lack of stability and comfort can turn their life upside down and get them off to a shaky start in life. Parents themselves are unlikely to have the money to save up for a pension fund for the future, so their lack of security in the present directly links to a lack of security in later life.

And zero hour contracts are not just unfair to the people they employ. Elderly, vulnerable people, who rely on zero-hour care services, can’t expect stability and continuity of care. A variety of employees will be shuffled around for varying amounts of time, and the much needed, personal bonds between carers and service users are frayed in the process.

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