Zero hour contracts, are they the devil?

Georgina Robbins, Kettle Mag, zero hour contracts
Written by Georgiethejourno

There has been a long running debate over zero hour contracts, most of it admittedly negative.  It has even been a subject brought to light on the BBC’s long running drama ‘Waterloo Road’.  So to get a balanced and unbiased view of the subject I thought I’d put it to the facebook masses by asking:

“Zero hour contracts, are they generally seen as only benefiting the companies involved, are they a necessary evil or should they be banned?”

I received mixed responses so I will let you come to your own conclusion.

With regards to holiday pay . .

 Emma Kneebone who is a manager for a care company explained, “For every hour you work you accumulate 12.08% (that percentage may be slightly different in other places, but it is between 12-13%) of your hourly pay.  For example, if you get paid £8 per hour, you get just under a £1 in holiday pay.  Basically, for every 8 hours you work, you get an hours worth of pay extra for the holiday fund.  The employee can request it any time in the year, some use it for when they go on holiday, others save it for just before Christmas etc.”

but as for job security . .  

Nathan Stewart who is a sound engineer claims, “There is a massive burden on an employee who doesn’t ‘need’ a 0 hr contract.  There’s no job security, you lose out on a lot of company benefits when you’re doing the same hours and work other full time contracted employees get, you can’t get a mortgage or anything that requires you to have proof of income.”


Though it seems that if you are doing consultancy work, it’s the way forward . .

Theo Butt – Phillip who is the former Mayor of Wells explained how it worked for him.  “I used to have a zero hours contract with one of the firms I did consultancy work for, that was just to enable me to work as a freelance (they only used me when they needed me).  That can be okay for someone who’s working as a freelance and has a variety of clients.  Equally some people have them for occasional cover work, which can be fine too.”


and just to balance it out . .

Sam Thomas who studies medicine at Cardiff Univesity gives us his opinion.  ‘My view is that while (under our current system) a firm may use zero-hours to the benefit of the people, human greed dictates that they won’t.  Therefore, until we attain unilaterally a common degree of love for our fellow man, they should be outlawed.’

In my opinion I would agree with the latter, it can be a benefit but it is simply misued.  Much like the apprenticeship schemes that are more and more readily available, the zero hour contract comes with a back catalogue of misuse and mistrust.  

An example here, though in a fictional programme, it is based on a real experience.  In Waterloo Road, one of the characters struggled for food, when his sister fell sick his mum had to care for her, and as she was on a zero hour contract she ended up very poor.  Like I said, it is a fictional programme but it happens in the real world.  

You cannot predict what is going to happen, if someone in your family falls ill or something happens to yourself and you can’t work, then you can’t earn.  For those that are after job security, then well quite honestly none of us have that in this climate.  If we are looking for relability, the ability to buy our own property or take out a loan, then the zero hour contract hinders that greatly.  For those that are freelancing or just want to earn a bit of extra money then it is perfect, flexible and means you have that extra name on your cv.

Either way someone, someday is going to stand up and say that something needs to be done to make it more fair, and they will work hard at doing so.  Until then, this argument will continue and most people will continue to lose out.