Zeroing in on zero hours contracts

“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

Key points:

  • 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 slave company 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
  • 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.


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18 Responses to Zeroing in on zero hours contracts

  1. Forgot to say, this company is not some little one man band, it is a large multi million pound turnover company in the “leisure” sector.


  2. More than disgraceful. You must be champing at the bit for him to give in his notice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like you would not believe @First Night Design. :-O

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on The poor side of life and commented:
    Zeroing in on disgusting zero hour contracts.. All is not what it says on the tin. We must take a stand against zero hour contracts for obvious reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Disgusting. Zero hour contracts need to be abolished. They exploit everyone who is employed on one of these immoral contracts. It’s Tory heaven, exploitation, low pay and a good tax dodge.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nienna says:

    They’re a disgrace, morally wrong. Makes me angry.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. twistedman says:

    It does not have to be so…. Employers and the state in conspiracy together

    Liked by 1 person

  8. sdbast says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.


  9. Best ear plugs are the wax ones you get from Boots. Sounds like he needs leather gauntlets too also goggles? And proper protective clothing. I don’t get it, thought this govt was crazy about Health and Safety. Are there any Trade Unionists to give advice on safety in this area? His life and health is more important than a 3rd world job. A 16 year old “apprentice” died recently in bad working conditions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ones I got him were orange rubber ones; they seemed to do the trick. He definitely needs gloves; the bin he carries is causing marks and callouses on his hands, and the correct footwear (steel toes caps with grip soles) not the trainers he currently wears. As I said, once he hands his notice in, I’m straight on the ‘phone to Health & Safety!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not familiar with this line of work but by the sound of it they are mot bothering with safety precautions. No way you could get advice from a Health and Safety Union man in the business? Not only for appropriate dress but the risks and safe procedures. You must be worried sick and your son must be desperate to have a job in the current situation. Anyways – good luck to you both.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. They don’t seem to have any union representation unfortunately 😦
    Thank you for your kind comments


  11. Carol Laidlaw says:

    I recommend he joins a union himself whether or not there is a recognised one at his workplace. (And he could join a Unite community branch while he is unemployed if he likes.) Unions are becoming more essential due to attacks on workers rights. If he needs to take an employer to an employment tribunal, his union will pay the tribunal fee and find him one of their own solicitors who won’t claim back a big chunk of any compensation he gets. Unions don’t appear to do anything dramatic to improve working conditions but they are effective in a low key way. My union reps have just got contractual sick pay reinstated at my office, it took them a year of pestering, but they got a result. The fact that the demand could have been backed up by collective action by the unionised staff probably encouraged the management to eventually agree.

    Liked by 1 person

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