According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) there are more women than men and 20% of the jobs are held by students.
So with low rates of pay the norm, government claims that these contracts offer people the flexibility people want looks a bit thin to me. Employers love it of course and insist that it benefits both sides. That is fanciful.
Workers on zero-hours contracts have no guarantees about work, are often contacted at short notice and if they turn down the offer too often they don’t get any work. CIPD research found that 20% of workers on these contract were penalised if they weren’t available for work when the call came. Half said they received no notice at all or found out at the start of the shift that work had been cancelled. How ethical is that?
Talking to checkout staff at Tesco I was told all new employees are on zero-hours contracts. Supermarkets not only use these contracts but pay low rates. Having workers on part-time hours, an average of 25 a week being offered although 40% of employees wanted more, employers expect the government to make up earnings to a living standard through the benefit system. So taxpayers are effectively subsiding these employers.
The TUC said “people employed on these contracts earn £300 a week less on average than workers in secure jobs.” The TUC General Secretary challenged any minister or business leader to survive on a low-paid zero-hours contract job, not knowing from one day to the next how much work they will have.
The Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills said that zero-hours contracts had a part to play in a modern, flexible, labour market. “For workers such as students and those with caring responsibilities they provide a pathway to employment particularly when the individual cannot commit to regular hours”
And the CBI, as you might expect, said the figures show that zero-hours contracts were most common among groups where flexibility benefited both parties. Of course.
The UK has 31 million workers of whom almost 23 million work full-time. Of the remainder it is claimed that almost 700,000 are “power part-timers” who work less than a 5-day week but earn the equivalent of more than £40,000 a year.
According to the ONS average part-time earnings are £9,000 compared with £27,195 for full-time workers. The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion analysed the ONS data further and found almost 700,000 people earning the equivalent if £40,000 a year.
These high earning part-timers are not just parents wanting to spend more time with their children but people who want to have a better work-life balance and pursue other interests.
However because someone earns £20,000 for a 2-day week doesn’t mean they have the spending power of someone earning £50,000 a year. I once earned £1,200 for a days work but that doesn’t mean I earned £300,000 a year.
I’m not denying that working part-time has its advantages as long as you have a reasonable income to support your life-style. Most jobs could probably be covered on a part-time or job-share basis and the idea of having a portfolio career is nothing new.
Timewise, a company which specialises in part-time workers, says its receiving a record number of male entries for this year’s annual power part-time list of the top 50 people in business-critical roles. They say “Career success needn’t be a 5-day week. The reality is that if you perform well and deliver what you need to, a modern forward-thinking business will give you the freedom on where and when you work”
Ten years after the government first introduced the right to flexible working, last year it extended the right to ask for flexible working arrangements to all employees (not just those with children) provided they had worked for the company for at least 26 weeks.
But there is a huge divide between these so-called “power part-timers” who enjoy the freedom and flexibility they have and people on zero-hours contracts worrying about how many hours of work they will receive each week.
This entry was posted in Health & Well-being, Psychology, Work and tagged CBI, Center for Economic & Social Inclusion, CIPD, Department for Business Innovation & Skills, ethical, job sharing, ONS, part-time work, portfolio working, stress, TUC, work-life balance, zero-hour contracts.