Zero hour work backed by poll of contract staff

ZERO hours contracts are being attacked on unreasonable grounds and their excessive regulation should be avoided, according to a report published today.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reveals a survey of employees finding that workers on zero-hours contracts are equally satisfied with their jobs as other employees.

People employed without a specified number of hours actually reported a better working lifestyle to the CIPD. Only 58 per cent of people on regular contracts say they were happy with their work-life balance, as opposed to 65 per cent on zero-hours contracts who said the same.

The poll also says 47 per cent of people employed on a zero-hours basis are satisfied having no minimum working time set, as opposed to 27 per cent who are dissatisfied.

However, the CIPD’s chief executive Peter Cheese said the body recognised the need for changes: “There is a need to improve poor practice in the use of zero-hours contracts, for example the lack of notice many zero-hours staff receive when work is cancelled.”

The group proposes that, rather than regulating against the practice, zero-hours workers should could be compensated for last-minute cancellations in work, and such contracts should only be used where appropriate.

“The emphasis should be on improving management practice and enforcing existing regulation first,” Cheese continued.

Manufacturers’ organisation EEF also weighed in behind the CIPD’s finding, with director of policy Steve Radley commenting: “The debate on zero-hours contracts has become unbalanced and needs greater focus on the benefits it can bring to both workers and employers.”

Alexander Ehmann, from the Institute of Directors, concurred: “The clamour of condemnation that we have seen on this issue has been largely unwarranted and has ignored the fact that for many people – employers and employees – the arrangements offered by such contracts are extremely beneficial.”