Stand aside, zero-hour contracts: the one-hour contract has arrived, courtesy of Santander

Helen Cahill
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A man sits in front of a Santander bank
A new kind of workplace insecurity has arrived (Source: Getty)

Santander is employing hundreds of people on "one-hour contracts", a new type of job agreement that gives employees at least one hour of work every month.

The bank uses the contracts for its on-call customer service assistant (CSA) employees, and has 371 people employed on the contracts. The on-call staff represent around 10 per cent of Santander's customer service advisers, and help cover branch staff when they are off.

Read more: Asos and Amazon in the spotlight as Sports Direct agency questioned

In advertisements for the jobs, Santander said that employees are given more than one hour of work per month "according to branch requirements" and that "flexibility around hours and location is essential".

The contracts are a subtle variation on the controversial zero-hours contracts, which are used by employers seeking out a flexible workforce. Zero-hours contracts have been criticised for not providing workers with secure employment and rights, and were at the centre of a working practices scandal at Sports Direct.

MPs called out Sports Direct on its working practices last year, saying the company's Shirebrook warehouse was run like a "Victorian workhouse". Transline, the agency that provides Sports Direct with workers on zero-hours contracts, will be questioned by MPs tomorrow about its involvement with both Sports Direct and Amazon.

A Santander spokesperson said: "These contracts offer full employment rights with the same terms and conditions as our other CSA employees and the ability to work elsewhere. The choice of hours for our ‘on-call ‘ CSAs are agreed in advance. This type of contract is supported by our unions because it suits many colleagues who want to work flexibly. Anything suggesting that we are operating practices that circumvent employment laws is a misrepresentation."

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