“Please don’t write about this on your blog mum”, my son had begged me.
So to protect him and the company he
slaves works for, both will remain nameless.
Here is the definition of zero hours contracts from ACAS:
Zero hours contracts
- Zero hours contracts normally mean there is no obligation for employers to offer work, or for workers to accept it.
- Most zero hours contracts will give staff ‘worker’ employment status.
- Zero hours workers have the same employment rights as regular workers, although they may have breaks in their contracts, which affect rights that accrue over time.
- Zero hours workers are entitled to annual leave, the National Minimum Wageand pay for work-related travel in the same way as regular workers.
What are they?
A zero hours contract is generally understood to be a contract between an employer and a worker where:
- the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours, and
- the worker is not obliged to accept any work offered.
On 26 May 2015, new regulations about zero hours contracts were brought in. The law prevents employers from enforcing ‘exclusivity clauses’ in a zero hours contract. An exclusivity clause would be where an employer restricts workers from working for other employers.
All sounds lovely and pink and fluffy doesn’t it? The reality though is rather different.
The hourly rate is £5.13 an hour because he’s under 21 – Well OK; there’s no obligation on the employer to pay more than that. It is what it is.
- His start time is either 8, 9 or 10 pm and he is supposed to finish at 4 am, but is usually there until about 5 am cleaning.
- He only gets paid to 4 am; when he has enquired about being paid until 5 am, his request is shrugged off and forgotten about.
- He does not receive any enhanced amounts for working unsociable hours (presumably because the trading hours of the
slavecompany are advertised so prospective employees know what they are signing up for)
- He is provided with no “uniform” so has to provide his own. He cannot claim tax relief for cleaning his uniform as it does not bear the company logo and so is not classed as corporate dress http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/eimanual/EIM32480.htm
- The “training” (laughing so hard at this point that I almost break a rib) takes the form of on line training – even the manual handling module, which by it’s very nature needs to be backed up with face to face training. The total on line “training” is estimated to take between 7 – 10 hours. Employees are expected to conduct this in their own time without being paid for it. I told him to tell his boss that as the training is something that is wholly, necessarily and exclusively connected to the performance of his duties it should be a) undertaken in work time and b) he should be paid for it. Still awaiting a response on that!
But the very worst aspect of this job are the frequent and significant health & safety breaches;
The job involves depositing a large amount of glass bottles for prolonged periods of time, into a large skip. The noise that activity makes is horrendously loud, so much so that several of the people doing it complain of a ringing in their ears afterwards.
No ear defenders or ear plugs are provided.
I was so concerned about this (as any right minded person would be) that I purchased several sets of ear plugs, gave them to my son to use and told him to give the spare ones out to his colleagues.
Prior to depositing the bottles in the skip, they have to be carried in a large bin down a flight of metal stairs, one of the pipes adjacent to the steps is leaking, so when it rains, the steps are extremely slippery. My son and his colleague have nearly come a cropper several times. It should also be noted that no gloves or steel toe capped boots are provided.
My son has said that he is going to hand his notice in and when he does, I shall be reporting this company to the Health & Safety Executive.
I wish there was a “taking the piss” executive, because I’d report the company to them too!
This company, like a lot of others out there exploit youngsters because they think that they can get away with it as most youngsters will blindly accept what they are told and are not usually aware of their rights.
And that ladies and gentlemen is the reality of zero hours contracts that are so beloved by the tories.