Working for one of the big banks and only having to do an hour a month sounds great until you realise that hour is probably paid at minimum wage (or as close to it as decency allows).

The Financial Times recently reported that Santander currently employs 371 people on contracts which only guarantee one hour of work a month. These “on call” contracts are said to provide flexible cover for local branches. On the face of it this appears to be a poor attempt to avoid the “zero hours” label, which is surprising when the latest headlines reveal demand for these arrangements to be at record levels (910,000 workers on zero-hours contracts, Office for National Statistics, March 2017). However the evidence behind the headlines suggests that whilst the overall number is at a record level there was a sharp decline in the last quarter of 2016. Does this point to a “zero hours” stigma?

“Zero hours” contracts are intended to engage a worker on a genuine ad-hoc basis. They are sometimes referred to as “bank contracts” (appropriate given the story above) because they are used to create a bank of workers who can be called upon at short notice when work fluctuates. They get a bad press because there is no guarantee of work and some employers try to use them to avoid employment status and prevent people from building up continuity of employment.

Although we do not want an economy based on zero-hours workers, there is a time and a place for the flexibility offered to both employers and workers. Used in moderation and in the right circumstances, employers should not be afraid of the “zero-hours” label.

Whether you have full-time or part-time employees, shift workers or zero-hours staff, we can help you with Employment Contracts which work for your business. For more information please do not hesitate to contact our experienced Employment team for a free and confidential discussion on 01924 387 110.

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