Ed Miliband is taking on zero hour contracts. Its estimated there are 600,000 zero hours contracts in the UK at present.
That's a possible problem for BQ Industries. We have 90% part time staff these days, for a variety of reasons.
Ed is going to talk later on today and is predicted to say a future labour government will be :
- Ensuring workers can demand a fixed-hours contract when they've worked regular hours over six months for the same employer
- That they receive a fixed-hours contract automatically when they've worked regular hours for more than a year - unless they chose to opt out
- Protection from employers forcing them to be available all hours and insisting they can't work for others or cancelling shifts at short notice - for no money
The really onerous part of zero hours is the employee must attend when the employer wants, but MAY not be needed from week to week. - So point 3 is the best one.
I say MAY because in the majority of cases in my experience these workers do get their work every week.
It may not be 40 hours, but it will be 4-8-12-20 hours etc.
So I expect the sum of all this legislation would be to move the zero's to a 2 hour contract, with fixed hours on the busiest day, and an option to work extra, if work is available.
The change for the employer would be they have to pay sickness and holidays and bank holiday pay, something that some of the current zero hours companies have been accused of not paying.
The change for the employee would be they could work for multiple employers.
As I said, BQ Industries has moved over the years from 80% of employees on full time, 40 hour contracts, to 90% on part-time contracts.
We start at 4 hours and go up to 30. These are fixed hours, fixed days , but as flexible as could be.
We employ, in the main, older ladies, 40s, 50s 60s, who's partner's have their own business. They can work for us for a guarantee income, but can also chop and change to suit their own business needs. Only very rarely is this a problem for us.
We also employ, mother's with school age children who can work school hour without paying childcare costs. Students, who fit in hours with timetables and people with other part time jobs at other workplaces and the retired who don't want to work 40 hours anymore.
So, in the main, we are not a full time contact employer. We moved to part time as costs forced us too, and as we had fewer, did better analysis of what we actually do. We are, like many businesses, busier at certain times. We have more hours available on a Monday and a Friday and barley anyone in on a Thursday.
We don't pay enough or for long enough that you could earn enough to live on. But that's not who we are employing. We are employing second incomers.Spouse has good job, or need a secretary/accounts keeper, so ours is their second income, and students and retired people.
When I worked for a fashion company, employing much younger people, the average worker was employed for 12 months, then moved on. Many made barely a month. Senior staff more like 5 years.
At BQI - the AVERAGE, of our part time hours workers, is 8 years. Many have 10+.
I have a feeling that zero hours contracts are just another CostaLiving soundbite. The latest bogeyman. The new fixed-odds betting or Wonga. Something for a young, left wing idealist activist to man the barricades against and overthrow.
And something, like the Wonga & fast betting, that once banned isn't going to make much difference at all.