Tuesday 25 June 2013

A Matter of Time: The rise of zero hours contracts

“Zero hours” contracts are anything but a new phenomenon – employment contracts of this kind have been around for many years. Yet the use of zero hours contracts among UK employers has risen sharply in recent years. For some people a zero hours contract offers welcome choice and flexibility. However, for the majority, the freedom and choice are more apparent than real, particularly in working environments where power imbalances are acute. Indeed, both the government and the opposition are reviewing these arrangements. This event examined the impact of zero hours contracts on workers; explore whether their use is likely to persist as the recovery strengthens and asked how these arrangements can be structured so they are used fairly and not solely in the interest of employers.

At this event Matthew Pennycook presented Resolution Foundation analysis on the use of zero hours contracts and Jill Rubery (Manchester Business School) gave an insight into how they are used in specific sectors. Guy Standing (author of The Precariat ), Heather Wakefield (UNISON), and Matthew Oakley (Policy Exchange) responded, sharing their views on the challenge and important avenues for future policy development. Sarah O’Connor (Financial Times) chaired the event.

This event is part of a wider-ranging investigation into current forms of precarious employment and their impact on low to middle income households that will be published in the autumn.