The 2015 elections are now officially over and one argument that surrounded this year’s election was the zero hour contract. For those who are not aware, zero hour contracts mean that an employer is not obliged to give their employee minimum working hours. This means, for example, an employee will not be given any guaranteed hours when signing a working contract.
The stigma over the zero hour contract is the myth that employers use these contracts in order to get a high number of hours from an employee for little wages, wages often under the national minimum wage.
Now we do not dispute that zero hour contracts can be and are used by some employers as a means of restricting employee rights. However all employers utilising these contracts should not be tarnished with the same brush as a number of industries rely on them in order to survive in their particular market – due to the type of contracts/work they receive.
At Alpha 1 security, we use zero hour contracts for a number of reasons. For example, certain clients are unable to provide set weekly rotas and hours and as such we are unable to guarantee how many hours of work will be available each week. Many of the security officers that cover these types of contracts have primary jobs and take on work with us as an additional source of income. The zero hour contract gives them both security and flexibility. All of Alpha 1 staff are paid at least or above statutory minimum wage and are entitled to travel pay and annual leave.
In a recent survey, almost 80% of British Security Industry Association (BSIA) agreed with zero hour contracts, citing increased flexibility and the ability to meet unexpected demands being the two key benefits. Trevor Elliot, Director of Manpower and Membership services at BSIA, commented, “Whilst we welcome governments’ review of zero – hero contracts, it’s important to emphasise that where they are correctly managed, these arrangements can have a real benefit to both employees and employers. For employers within the Security sector, who are often required to respond to high volume demand over very short periods of time, zero-hours contracts provide flexibility and the ability to be adaptable in fulfilling customer requirements.’