Written by Thomas Westgarth
Insecure. Low pay. Powerless. These are a few of the words bandied about by politicians, particularly those on the left, when discussing zero hours contracts.
As someone who works on a zero hour contract (close house golf club as a little promo); in fact 17% of those who do are students, I at first hand experience the pros and cons of this type of work.
Around 700,000 people work on zero hours contracts in the UK, but that is not 700,000 people who are forced into these jobs with no alternative. In fact one third of workers do not want any more hours than they already have on ZHC. I am very happy with the flexibility my contract gives me, allowing me to balance sports, study and social commitments. Furthermore, zero hours contracts are creating employment, stimulating demand in an economy which is still not yet fully recovered. ZHC importantly provides employment to younger students, who need to gain vital experience in the workplace from a young age so that they can prosper in the future. Without a zero hours contract, I may not be in work and would not have seen significant improvements in my communication and productivity.
For a parent who has young mouths to feed and bills to pay, I can see the other side of the coin. When work is quiet workers are told to go home, instead of being paid for the extra few hours work. Workers on ZHC are also not entitled to maternity leave, whilst any decent employer will allow time off, there should be a change on ZHC regulation to make it compulsory to allow maternity leave.
The most critical downfall of zero hours contracts is the feeble tax revenue that is generated from these jobs. It is vital that the UK pay off the deficit but that has to be done by increasing tax revenue if we are to avoid monumental cuts to government expenditure.
Unemployment is falling, now at 5.7% and projected to fall further. Remaining as close to full employment as possible is vital to maintaining a well balanced economy that benefits the whole population. Currently, creation of any jobs will be appreciated globally, but in the future once the UK has fully recovered, the government will need to rethink how they are to create secure employment whilst not abolishing zero hours contracts