The pain of zero hour contracts

The number of zero hour contracts are rising –  and so are money worries. Fears over whether or not it will be possible to pay the rent, feed the kids or keep the electric meter topped up are plaguing many retail workers, who never know whether there will be enough hours on offer to provide them with the income they need.

 “You could indefinitely keep a large group of employees in your employ without having to worry about set hours, it allows you to have a bigger workforce with little legal responsibility compared to contracting fixed hours for everyone. I was out of work for 5 months waiting for shifts, the amount of stress and debt it caused was not worth the hassle then if I’d have just stayed on jobseekers the whole time (how can zero hours fix the economy and unemployment when it plunges people into terrible circumstances, it makes me sick to think that THAT is a better alternative to trying to work hard to feed your family and give them the joys this world can bring) I know the government are keen to try and address some issues of the contract but honestly I feel they focus more on the fact that, whilst true, it does reduce unemployment figures as people on zero hours technically have a job, but when you face an issue like mine sure i had a job, but no I received no money as i did not receive the shifts. A job, yes. Work, no.”

Wade Thirlwall
Zero hour contract worker

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that at the end of last year (2012) 200,000 individuals were working zero hour contracts – 76,000 of these were aged 16-24. Whilst not being a huge issue for people such as students who are working part time for a little spending money, or casual workers who don’t need the money, many of these have dependents and a very real, urgent need for the income.

“They ruin families – I would like a set shift so I can spend quality time with my wife and kids. Zero hour contracts make me stressed and lose sleep – you never know if you’re going to get a call and have to be in work within the hour or be on the way to work n get a call to say you’re not needed for a couple of hours. In short, it’s not fair. ”
Lee Jones
Zero hour contract worker

For those of you not aware, a zero hour contract means that there are no basic hours which you legally have to be provided with. This benefits the employer, as if they feel they can run their business with less staff, then that’s exactly what they can do. Similarly, they can choose to only schedule you in at times convenient to them, such as when another member of staff is sick or otherwise unavailable, when the business place becomes busier, or in peak trading hours. The unstable nature of working a contract like this means at times, workers will be unsure whether they can afford what they have.

“Both me & my husband work this way! It’s impossible to run a home & support a young family and so mentally draining.”

Chloe Constantine
Zero hour contract worker 

Whilst not being a full solution, signing up with an agency such as ourselves can increase your weekly income, without interrupting what you receive currently.  We have many one-off, ad-hoc shifts which could work around your current hours. Why not contact us to see what we can do for you?

Sources: BBC, 
Essential Recruitment