Labour MP Tom Watson has called for a ban on zero-hours contracts, labelling them an “uncivilised way” to treat employees.
Yesterday, Watson joined a protest by trade union GMB outside the London head office of McDonald’s over the fast food chain’s use of zero-hours contracts.
Speaking to HR magazine, Watson said zero-hours contracts highlight the “continued abuse” of contract law and “undermine workers rights”.
“If employers want to be that flexible with wages then they must realise workers can’t be. They can’t be flexible with shopping bills, rent and mortgage payments,” Watson said.
“In tough times an employer can have leverage over their workforce. There’s something profoundly unjust in the way people are treated like that.”
This week, VP HR McDonald’s Jez Langhorn told HR magazine that a recent staff survey showed 94% of its workforce were happy with the hours and contracts they were on.
He also said the company “never have and never will have” people sitting at home waiting for hours.
GMB national organiser Martin Smith said Langhorn’s claim that nearly all employees are happy with their contracts was “questionable”.
“What the union is hearing is that people are being sent home from a shift because it’s not busy enough. We also know workers are seeing their hours being cut if they make genuine mistakes or take time off sick,” he told HR.
“The benefits of a zero-hours contract are a one-way street only favouring the employer.”
Smith said he’d like to see someone’s average hours over a 12-week period be their contracted hours.
Business secretary Vince Cable is leading a review on zero-hours contracts and is expected to release findings later this month.
“ZERO HOUR Contracts”
Dear Sirs I have to disagree with the labour MP that the “0” hour contracts should be banned. They are of a great advantage to employers and employees where there is a need for both to have a temporary arrangement because of the nature of our industry which is in Security. Contracts with clients’ can be temporary which could last only a few days but then end up being extended. Some employees on these kind of contracts actually have full time jobs elsewhere and are trying to earn extra money somewhere else. Surely it is better for people to be in work then on the dole? Finally, please do not tarnish employers reputations by putting everyone in the same pot. There are some of us trying to run a business under very difficult circumstances and do not need comments like these which are intended for political gain. Yours sincerely Bipin Joshi Joint MD.
Isn’t it time we realised that employers are not part of social services and employees are not “doing a favour” by accepting a job and turning up for work. Employers do not have bottomless pockets to pay people to sit around doing nothing, but we do need flexibility. I worked under a zero hours contract for years and found it suited my life style perfectly. How could you have flexible contracted hours?
Keep zero-hour contracts, just look at how they can benefit everyone
I believe there is a place for zero-hour contracts. Some businesses may abuse this and mistreat staff, where as others use this to help balance their business for when they are busy or quiet. Tom Watson is only looking at this from a corporate perspective and generalising all businesses who use this approach. I work in the Hospitality Industry and there is a need for some businesses to have zero-hour contract employees on hand. There are always busy days and quiet days. A business cannot afford to have staff standing around when it’s dead! Many SME’s use a balance of full-time and part-time employees to help with different influxes of trade. If these businesses are unable to employee on a zero-hour basis, it could potentially be damaging financially. In regards to employees, some people benefit from the use of zero-hour contracts and it would affect many people for this to be abolished. I appreciate that zero-hour contracts can affect people negatively and so the system should be looked at by Vince Cable. I agree with the previous comment about it being more productive to have people on these contracts rather than on the doll.