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The rise of Zero-hours contracts

Thursday, August 16, 2012
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You won’t find this term in a crusty old business studies textbook, but the use by employers of “zero-hours contracts” is becoming increasingly common on the UK.  Companies using zero hours contracts don’t give their employees guaranteed hours, but expect them to be available to work with a few hours’ notice. They say they are being fair and are providing valuable experience to staff, but the unions, and some workers, are opposed.

This video feature by Newsnight’s Allegra Stratton reports on whether zero hours contracts constitute real jobs. There is some good analysis of the pro’s and con’s of the approach, both from the point of view of the employer as well as employee.

The key benefit to employers is that zero-hours contracts provide much greater flexibility - and also make employment costs more variable. But there are some pretty significant downsides for employees, not the least being the complications which arise from the benefits system.


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