Zero Hours Contracts
Inappropriate use of exploitative zero hours contracts has become one of the most controversial issues in employment with widespread concern over their use.
In a nutshell
What’s the business benefit?
Avoiding the use of exploitative zero hours contracts, or using them only inappropriate circumstances, can bring several benefits to your business, including:
- A more committed and stable workforce which means lower staff turnover and lower recruitment expense
- Lower stress levels among staff which means lower rates of absenteeism and sickness
- More attentive and safety conscious staff with lower accident and injury rates
- A better reputation as a fair and progressive employer
- A stronger brand
Why is this included in the Scottish Business Pledge?
Adopting good practice in terms of staff contracts has a positive impact on employees. In turn this can have positive social and economic consequences.
When employees have guarantees of regular work they have a regular income stream and can plan ahead. This means they can have a better quality of life, commit more clearly to paying rent or mortgages and make a more stable contribution to the economy.
Why is this good for Scotland?
By using appropriate and fair contracts for staff, we have the chance to bring significant benefits to business and Scotland. We can build trust between employers and staff. We can reduce stress and improve workplace performance. We can enhance health and safety at work.
In terms of real vision as a business leader, you can make a difference to the wider wellbeing of workers, families and communities.
What should I do now?
Ideally, all you have to do is confirm that you DO NOT employ people on zero (or very low) hours contracts.
Alternatively, you can also make the commitment that, if zero hours contracts are used in your organisation, they are used appropriately. By appropriate use of zero hours contracts we mean for example that:
- They are not exploitative
- They are linked to seasonal work, resilience or other functions where workloads are highly variable
- Any employees on zero hours contracts have comparable employment rights to other staff.
Taking the High Road – Work, Wages and Wellbeing in the Scottish Labour Market (January 2014), a report by the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee states that it is unacceptable for a business to use zero hours contracts which cause hardship to individuals due to regularly changing patterns of work; deny individuals their basic employment rights; and/or, deter workers from asserting their basic employment rights.
We will not endorse a Pledge proposal where a company is employing people on exploitative zero hours contracts.
What help is available if I can’t make the commitment right now?
It’s important that you have appropriate, legal contracts in place for your employees.
The ACAS website provides information, advice, training, conciliation and other services for employers and employees to help prevent or resolve workplace problems.
Through Business Gateway’s free services, you can also access advice and online Business Guides for employers.