Say no to zero hours contracts

No to zero hoursThe rise of zero hours contracts in the workplace is the latest attack on workers’ rights and dignity. Put simply, zero hours contracts cover a range of arrangements that mean workers have no guaranteed weekly hours or income, and are only being paid for the hours that they do work. Unite wants to challenge employers to end the exploitation.   

Employers use zero hours contracts to cut wages, avoid holiday pay, pensions, and other benefits enjoyed by employees and agency staff. Workers are also unable to take on other work, as they are obliged to be available for work at the whim of the employer. And with the high level of insecurity comes the risk of bullying, harassment and stress. It’s time to end the exploitation.

Zero hours contracts are on the rise having almost doubled in the last five years. The latest data shows some 1.8 million jobs are zero hours contracts, and these figures underestimate the reality as many people do not know they are on them. The real figure may be even higher.

Are you on a zero hours contract? Then please fill in the survey, you can remain anonymous if you choose and we won’t pass any details on without asking you first, help us compile a proper picture of what life is like on zero hours contracts.

It’s time to end the exploitation – Email your MP.

Please contact your MP - using the form below - and tell them to oppose the rise of zero hours contracts. You might like to include some of the clear recommendations Unite has made, which we know would help end exploitation for many zero hours workers: 

  • Drop the steep charge for employment tribunals (one of the only ways workers can pursue justice);
  • Define zero hours workers as employees with all the legal protections that accompany this;
  • Require government to use its purchasing power to wipe out insecure employment from all state contracts.

Contact your MP using the form below and make your voice heard today!

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Tell us your story and help compile the Unite dossier on zero hours contracts

Life in Zero Hour Britain

Care worker (North West)

Stress [properly sized]We spoke to a lady from the North West coast who had been looking for a job for a long time, applying for everything available.  So when offered employment as a care worker she thought her luck had changed. The job was based on a zero hours contract but that didn’t matter, she had never been on one before and in truth didn’t fully know what the difference was.

However, upon starting the new job she began to realise the implications of the contract.  "There’s no security in the contract, I don’t know what hours will be expected of me week to week.  They sometimes call us late on the Sunday to give us hours for the week starting Monday". This makes life difficult for not only the carers but their clients too.  Many are vulnerable and like to know who is going to visit them a couple of days in advance.

Long hours come with the job, "I’m usually out of the door by 7am to do my morning visits until lunchtime, back out by until 2 and then it’s the long evening shift, from 4pm to 10pm", with that many hours you’d expect breaks.  Yet ‘breaks’, are the unpaid time between clients’ homes, sometimes the company allow just 5 or 10 minutes to get from one end of town to the other, adding to the stress of the job.

As is often the case with zero hours contracts, holiday pay doesn’t come as standard. "One of the other carers recently took a week off only to discover she’d been given 15 hours holiday pay when her average hours are 40 per week. I’ve not taken any time off yet, who knows what I’ll get, if anything".

We’ve been contacted by scores of people from the care sector, who have confirmed that zero hour contracts are rife in this industry.  The people who look after our sick, elderly and vulnerable are often left without decent contracted terms and conditions.

As our member sums it up "I can’t plan for anything week to week, can’t plan a holiday and no chance of getting a loan for the home improvements I need".

Type Name Size
Link Type Icon Zero hours contracts - Unite briefing August 2013 0.1Mb
Link Type Icon Parliament debate briefing 1.1Mb
Link Type Icon A matter of time - Resolution Foundation report into the rise zero hours contracts 0.92Mb

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