Can you live on a zero hours contract?

This is one of the sillier questions in modern politics. All sensible parties and politicians want people to have well paid jobs. We all recognise you need a decent income to meet all the household bills, and all main parties support a range of top up benefits to help those in low paid employment. No party recommends outlawing all zero hours contracts, as for some people and for some tasks these might make sense. All do agree that they cannot be used to break minimum wage laws, nor does working under such a contract render you ineligible for top up benefits and other state financial support.

Whether a particular zero hours contract is bad or not depends on its terms, and on how many hours of work materialise in practice. What is unfair would be lock in contracts  which stop someone working elsewhere when no work is available under the zero hours contract. Some people like their zero hours contract. Others see them as a steeping stone to a contract with specified hours. Labour often condemns them ,yet uses them within Labour Councils and Unions.

The answer to the question is simple. No, you cannot live on a zero hours contract if the rate of pay is low and the hours on offer are limited. If you are a student, if you want limited hours work, or if there other reasons why you are not seeking a fulltime job, a suitable zero hours contract might  work.

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134 Comments

  1. JoeSoap
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Come and inhabit the real world, please.
    Most self employed people or those running small businesses are effectively on zero hours contracts. Even worse, your employer (customer) can go bust and the state doesn’t help you out with redundancy payments. You aren’t protected by other employment rights either but instead have to nanny your employees.
    That’s reality.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Most self employed people or those running small businesses are effectively on zero hours contracts

      Let’s not forget why these contracts are termed “zero hours”. The employee is still on contract even if “zero hours”, ie nothing, is all that is on offer. The employee is expected to be available for work as required at very short notice. Usually the time it takes to get in for work after a phone call.

      That’s not at all the same for anyone running a business. If I book my car in for a service, I have to negotiate a suitable time. I don’t threaten the garage owner with the sack if he doesn’t instantly drop whatever else he might be working on and give me priority. Of course, I know if I had a serious and urgent problem with my car he’d do what he could to help me out, but that’s because we are have built up a level of trust over a number of years.

      That’s how it should work in all business situations and with employer/employee relationships too. It’s just not reasonable to expect anyone to be at anyone else’s beck and call if they aren’t being offered anything in return.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        Well I agree with your last paragraph and that is a daft contract to sign.
        However your garage might offer new customers a free oil change, in order to gain their custom later. That is what this is about. Don’t treat people as fools. Internship contracts are on the face of it exploitation, but look under the covers and people only do it to gain experience and contacts. Likewise here, zero hours are a first rung on the ladder. If you are doing the same thing 2 years later for the same employer then more fool you. That garage won’t be changing your oil for free 2 years on either.

        I have to say as a Company we offer neither of these type of contracts, but I don’t decry others, apart from the large and state subsidised consultancy Companies who can afford better morals, to be doing this.

    • Jerry
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      @JoeSoap; Indeed but the big difference between the self employed and those employed via a Zero Hours contract clause is that the SE person almost always knows when s/he is meant to be at work or not, they will not be travelling to a place of work just to find out that they are not required that day and if they do then the only person at blame is themselves! The Se also, on large, know how much they are likely to earn in a given future week/month and so can budget, those on ZH contracts might well have no idea about the current week never mind next month.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        I drove hundreds of miles many times to quote customers who didn’t subsequently order, believe me!
        All I am saying is that cup half full you treat this as a first step on the ladder, cup half empty you call yourself exploited. Learn and move on!

        • Jerry
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 9:26 am | Permalink

          @JoeSoap; “I drove hundreds of miles many times to quote customers who didn’t subsequently order, believe me!”

          Yes but that was known, expected, expenditure that can be budgeted for. If you want to compare someone on a ZH contract to a travelling rep then surely it is rep who doesn’t know if their company provided sales van will start tomorrow, next week or next month and whose customers can’t be contacted in any other way nor will the company allow you to get the faulty van fixed – perhaps threatening you with a breach of contract if you do…

          With ZH contracts the cup is always half empty for the employee, it is always (at least) half full for the employer, otherwise there would be absolutely no point in the employers using them as a basic salary and some form of bonus system would otherwise suffice.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Well of course you can live on a zero hours contract. Wages are anyway made up by benefits if you have lean periods. It is just like being self employed and can easily lead on to very large incomes if you think a bit and really want to get on. Anyway these contract have only become popular due to the idiotically employment laws which deter/prevent many companies from taking people in any other flexible way. How does the restaurant or cleaning company, for example, know how many staff it may need next year let alone next week?

    Furthermore it is a contract freely entered into. The employee (and employers) have agree to it so it is clearly a better to the alternative to the employee. Government should keep well out of such freely entered into contracts. Government tinkering is hugely damaging.

    Do you know how many people use food banks? is an equally stupid BBC think question. If you give thinks away for nothing (or less than real value) such as free food, the NHS and social housing you obviously tend to get a long queue. Without the stigma the queue would be even longer. It might leave someone enough money left to get a bottle of wine to go with them.

    Following the appalling Lufthansa incident I wonder what the EU/Cameron/BBC thing reaction will be. Probably to tighten the anti-discrimination and employments laws against people with mental and other illnesses or problems. These laws (together with the countless parasitic lawyers) already do huge damage. Keeping the wrong people in the wrong jobs, decreasing productivity and making workplaces far less pleasant and less efficient.

    Needless to say the BBC has the usual psychiatrists, mental health charities and the likes, telling us that, with the right treatment, medication, counselling etc…… I tend to think that one can no more predict some such people’s actions in say 12 months time than one can predict the climate in 100 years time.

    Still if the experts ever admitted to that they may not be in such demand.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      To see this one only has to look at the many murders and violent assaults & offences committed by people the medical “experts” have allowed to be released from prison into the “community”.

      The experts insurance should perhaps have to pay compensation to the victims for each decision they get so badly wrong so often. It might make them make rather better and more objective in their decisions.

      Just as the green loons should compensate us all, for the £Billions they have wasted and all the frozen pensioners and endless damage they have done so far.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Which idiotic employment laws and food banks only exist due to free food? Loan sharking is also freely entered into. Your right wing view are so far in LA La Land that they just need to be laughed at.

  3. JoeSoap
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Your plumber and electrician are just zero hours contract people with a bit of nouse and foresight in learning a trade and acquiring tools. This assault on zero hours contracts is the thin end of the wedge which would have all these people working for Plumbers Megacorp under all the “necessary” working time directives and the elites running these Megacorps skimming off the top!

    • A different Simon
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Joesoap ,

      I’ve been self employed for 11 years and you are talking rubbish .

      Many if not most Zero hours contracts are totally one sided and just exploitation of the most vulnerable people due to it being an employers market .

      Not everyone has the nouse , foresight to learn a trade and acquire tools .

      They are the ones most in need of protection from unscrupulous “employers” and overqualified often younger , fresher immigrant labour .

      You come and inhabit the real world .

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        If the are one sided they should not do them and just get another job. No one holds a gun to their heads.

        • Jerry
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

          @LL; “No one holds a gun to their heads.”

          You couldn’t be more wrong. Often the reality for many is a ZH contract or remain on JSA, then because they have turned down a suitable job (in the opinion of the DWP) they get sanctioned…

      • JoeSoap
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        1 If the contract is that one sided why sign it?
        2 If these people really are vulnerable and being exploited than I would condemn that. Perhaps then they should be seeking Citizens’ advice on what they are being asked to sign is legal, and with the Jobcentre on whether these actually constitute a legal offer of a job.
        3 Loo k at the other side of the coin please – small businesses particularly cannot immediately offer life long guarantees of employment at high wages to folk they have just met. The employer just won’t take the risk and the employee has no starting point. Just cut that first couple of rungs off the ladder, would you? Not a great plan.

        • petermartin2001
          Posted March 28, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

          JoeSoap,

          I’m afraid you’re talking nonsense. The employment laws in the UK are sensible. They don’t offer anything a reasonable employer wouldn’t offer voluntarily. If you disagree, what is your concern? Be specific about what laws need to be changed.

          Up to one year’s employment, any employee can be terminated without reason.
          After two years, there may , according to the terms and conditions be slightly longer than than that.
          After three years there’s a requirement to offer a weeks pay for every year served. It’s not much. Many employers would offer more.

          IMO it fair enough to terminate an employee after several months if it’s obvious they are in the wrong job. But it shouldn’t take any longer to find that out. Of course, if there’s a downturn in business, that’s regrettable and every employer has to terminate some employment contracts from time to time.

          The government can best address that issue with sensible policies to control aggregate demand rather than pass new employment laws.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

            I’m not sure where you get your facts from Peter.
            I used to employ over 50 people.
            The advice I got then, from HR advisors and off the .gov website was that the first 4 weeks can be a trial period, after that one weeks notice is needed.
            After one year 4 weeks notice is needed plus one extra week for each extra year served.
            You cannot terminate without written reason.
            And you can still be taken to a tribunal within the first year if the employee thinks the dimissal is because of their union membership, religious or racial discrimination or because they are pregnant.
            The granting of full employment and pension rights for part time workers some years ago even was one reason some employers moved to “zero hours” arrangements.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 5:35 am | Permalink

          Exactly it is the daft and absurdly restrictive employment laws that forces employers to use zero hours contracts. These restrictions destroy jobs by making employing people more difficult and risks. The only real protection for employees is lots of available jobs and the silly employment regulations thus damage employees too.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

            @LL; You talk utter rubbish with regards employment laws and ZH contracts, read “petermartin2001” above, I see no reason to repeat much of what he has already said.

        • A different Simon
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          Joesoap ,

          These are people with no savings and frequently behind on their mortgage/rent and struggling to feed themselves and children .

          Vulnerable and insecure and fearing their children will get taken into care .

          It is better for them to work for an employer who is exploiting them , not paying them fully (when they could) and breaking employment laws than find themselves out on the street .

          Taking one of these contracts is one step above selling your body for sex .

          At my 8 year old nephew’s junior school in a deprived East Midlands village they are falling like flies .

          His classmate’s Dad who was wheel chair bound lost his job and took all his stock of medication at once .

          • Edward2
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

            Good job then Simon, that zero hours jobs only account for a tiny percentage of all the jobs in the UK.
            Here in another part of the Midlands we have more vacancies than applicants.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    The sheer hypocrisy of this astounds me.
    I was a supply teacher for years.
    My boss as a teaching coach was on a zero hours contract and hands he lived very comfortably.
    Most journalists who I read are on a zero hours contract.
    My grandson is going to University (he hopes) to become a gofer (unpaid) for some politician…

  5. agricola
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Well thank you for stating the obvious. It worked for me sixty five years ago with my paper round and Christmas work as a porter at new Street Station Birmingham.

    How about discussing Ed Miliband’s idea to cap profits at 5% for any private company working in the NHS.

    If the company is in a totally unique position with no competition then there maybe a case for looking carefully at what they charge for their service. However if we are talking about services that are competed for by many companies, it is a nonsense. Competition will keep the profit margins to an acceptable level. Such a ruling would bring into play a gaggle of clever accountant just to achieve the 4.99% profit margin.

    Better he looks at the providers in the Green Energy industries, the ones who do the insulating, cladding, boiler replacements etc. They are currently dying on their feet and going out of business just because the department of energy cannot run itself with any consistency. From all I have heard of it, it is one of the most shambolic government enterprises to date. It needs a forensic investigation and then running by anybody who understands how business works. However, right now you are all wrapped up at playing politics, I doubt if anyone gives a toss.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Zero Hours contracts have been around for decades.

    When my Company had a concession in a well known High Street Departmental store 30 years ago, a number of of their staff were on zero hours contracts which also locked them out of working for anyone else.

    I had many a conversation with such people as I thought those terms were absolutely mad, unfair and one sided, but few at the time seemed concerned or complained, which I found amazing.

    As I understand it such sole working contracts have now been outlawed, but interestingly not by Labour when they had 13 years to do so.

    Zero hours contracts are now one step down from being self employed, and nobody seems to complain about that status.

    If one zero hours contract does not give you enough working hours, then I suggest people organise themselves with two, three or more of those contracts.

    Surely better to work some hours and get recognised for your skills by that Company so that when a full time or fixed part time job becomes available, they prefer you to an unknown applicant.

    Our Benefits system should be flexible enough to cope with official temporary work and the like, so that such workers are not disadvantaged, but encouraged to find work and new skills.

  7. alan jutson
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Off topic

    I see Labour are now talking of putting a 5% profit limit on NHS contracts to outside companies.

    Difficult and expensive to prove that because it is so easy to manipulate a low profit.

    Large salary increases, new office equipment, expensive buildings, new cars, higher pension contributions, high cost training courses, private health cover, etc etc

    Are they also going to subsidise any possible losses, or guarantee a fixed amount of work.

    Just shows how daft and ignorant of commercial business these people are.

    Large profits are usually the sign of poor negotiation skills by the person who awards the contracts.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Alan–I have forgotten ten times what Miliband will ever know on contract accounting and he can have obviously have no idea about allocations over contracts but more to my point is it his intention that each of these contract “returns” be signed off individually by the auditors? If so annually or what and by the company’s local auditors or by one of the big however many there are these days big firms. Does he think that this will come cheap, that’s apart from the audits not proving very much. He obviously detests the private sector, competition and business in general.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 29, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        Indeed it is a moronic proposal just as one would expect from Labour and Miliband we get quite enough of such stupidity from the current faux Tories.

      • alan jutson
        Posted March 29, 2015 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        Leslie

        Indeed, just because accounts are passed by the Auditors does not mean all is well.

        Equitable life and a host of other large businesses prove the fact that even the so called best auditors can be, shall we say, Confused.

        The fact that they can cost millions, does not seem to count for much either.

        Just shows the lack of commercial knowledge Miliband has.

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

          Lehmans’ accounts were passed by the auditors and solicitors. The £50 billion liability was known to both.

          Milliband and Balls spout populist nonsense like any politician who does not have to answer directly to their electorate.

          JR’s canvassing on doorsteps I suspect has honesty in its soul but this media posturing has no credibility. this coverage has arisen due to 24 news, why don;t they use those 24 hours tro really drill down?

  8. Mondeo Man
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Can one live on a zero hours contract ?

    With state top-ups – yes.

    This issue of lock-in contracts. It is not the contract which is important. Should an employee fail to show a couple of times (because they’ve taken work elsewhere) then they’d be deemed a bad and unavailable zero hours worker and probably be fired (for other matters of course.)

    Similarly those ‘asked’ to come in on Christmas day and rewarded with double-time (whoopie do) and told that it is not compulsory. Of course not. Until those who decline are ‘let go’ later for some or other matter.

    Such arrangements have come about – not for the worker’s benefit – but because there is a surfeit of subsidised and unskilled labour in Britain today.

    Because of the tax to cover this subsidy the employers are having to cut their costs at base.

    BTW – If we are not going to see rising VAT or national insurance contributions how are we to pay off the national debt ? Surely this can’t all be covered by the Laffer effect ?

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      John.

      Further to my previous comment.

      Uncontrolled immigration could be a relevent feature of virtually every single post you make – including this one. Yet it rarely is.

      You say politicians care about people’s pay but I don’t believe it. The do nothing about the one thing that is driving it down.

      • Jerry
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        @Mondeo Man; “Uncontrolled immigration could be a relevent feature of virtually every single post you make – including this one. Yet it rarely is.”

        Zero Hours contracts existed in all but name well before any post WW2 mass immigration to the UK, as “JoeSoap” points out, everyone who is self employed are on zero hours in effect. So no, migration is not a factor, although I suspect what is are those companies whose competitors are either off-shoring to, or are located in, countries were the cost of employment (especially indigenous wage rates) are far cheaper…

        • Hope
          Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          Of course it is a factor. Do not be so shallow in thought. Depressing wages helps big business and that is why they are pro EU. Subsidised labour on the back of the British taxpayer. Low paid workers have come here in their hundreds of thousands each year for in-work tax credits, free housing and all free public services. The Tory local authorities are not giving local priority clauses, people must wake up and realize that this is deliberate and the LibLabCon cartel knew this would be an inevitable consequence of their policy because they cannot limit migration from the EU. Perhaps you think the millions who have come to the UK over the last five years have done so for the sunshine!

          • Jerry
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

            @Hope; “Do not be so shallow in thought.”

            Oh look, it’s the filthy pot and pans trying to call the kettle dusty again.

            Immigration is not responsible for companies off-shoring their work to countries with cheaper labour rates, the only way that some on-shore companies can now compete is by exploiting the benefits o ZH contracts to their cash flows.

            Oh and “Hope”, it’s nothing to do with the EU but everything to do with Globalisation, wage/costs depression is the name of the game and why Globalisation was so loved by the ultra-capitalist and so hated by the unions and political left when the current trend started in the 1990s.

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

            @Jerry

            I disagree with you greatly on this.

            The perfect storm of benefits allowing a comfortable lifestyle and willing immigrants who want to save and return or whose lifestyle with in work benefits an d low pay is better than in their own country makes zero hours contracts proliferate more than any time “post WW2”.

            @ Joesoap above asks why anyone signs up to these contacts if they are so unfair? Because labour competition demands they do.

            The labour competition comes about due to mass immigration. Without mass immigration we would demand companies paid their employees a reasonable wage and object when potential employees did not take the job. (Of course our lives would be more costly but our taxes should be commensurately less as we are not subsidising the immigration).

            I would rather choose what I spend my money on.

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

            @Jerry

            In my haste to reply to you I mentioned that our lives may be more costly. That was manufactured and produced costs due to labour. I neglected to factor in cheaper housing and commodities prices due to lower demand so we might actually have lower living costs.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 30, 2015 at 7:22 am | Permalink

            @NS; If UK wages are higher than our Global competitors then we will have no jobs as the work gets off-shored, stop thinking that market forced do not apply to the UK! Why is it that some companies off-shore their call centres, when suitable English speaking people obviously exist here in the UK who could have done the job if it’s not labour costs, why have manufacturing companies off-shored their production when suitable UK staff (often already highly skilled) exist here in the UK etc. etc….

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

          “So no, migration is not a factor”

          Of course it isn’t, Jerry, of course it isn’t, not in the slightest.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper; Please read my reply to Hope.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

            Indeed Denis, apparently having several hundred thousand new arrival each year for the last ten years (the biggest increase in our poplulation in our nation’s history) has no effect on demand for housing, employment prospects, wage rates, demand for health services nor demand for places in schools.
            Amazing.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 30, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; The UK has several hundred thousand new arrival each year entering the employment and housing market ever year anyway, as kids leave school or home and as the indigenous population is actually falling (from the post WW2 high point, now that the baby boomer generation starts to retire)… Hence why UKIP actually have no intention of stopping and probably not even limiting the current rates of immigration, what they do want to do though is to in effect tell applicants what sort of work they will be able to do, that is what a points based immigration system does.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 30, 2015 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

            Extra people Jerry
            Clue for you.

            UKIP and the Coservatives have policies to reduce immigration.
            So wrong again as usual

          • Jerry
            Posted March 31, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; People who have not previously been in the employment or housing market are extra people, were ever they come from. The clue was in the word “New” Ho-hum…

            “UKIP and the Coservatives have policies to reduce immigration.”

            They both talk-the-talk but have little intention of walking-the-walk because immigrants have advantages for our industries as unlike the indigenous population they can by definition go to were the work is far easier than the indigenous population – hence my comment the other day regards needing immigrant workers when you claimed that the Midlands is short of workers as the same area doesn’t appear to be short of a working-age population either.

            “So wrong again as usual

            Indeed you are!

          • Edward2
            Posted March 31, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

            If you fail to accept that several hundred thousand new arrivals each year on top of any normal increase in population of a nation has its effects on housing rents and prices, wage rates, GP waiting times, road congestion, energy demands, hospital waiting times, etc then there is little point in arguing with you.

            In fact I really think that if someone argued white was white and black was black you would post arguing the opposite just for the fun of it.

  9. Richard1
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    It’s a ridiculous question. In any case anyone who is self employed in the service sector is effectively on a zero hours contract. There seems to be universal praise from his friends in the media for Mr Paxman. I can’t understand why. Many of his questions to both Cameron and Miliband were irrelevant and in some cases just rude. He didn’t seem to have any substantive questions on policy at all for Mr Miliband. The audience questions were trivial beyond belief. The fatuousness of the ‘debate’ illustrates how right Mr Cameron has been to insist that such reality TV shows don’t dominate the election.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Hold on, he persistently tried to get Miliband to say whether he saw any limit on how many immigrants should be allowed to come here and add to the population, and Miliband stubbornly refused to answer what he claimed was a “hypothetical” question. That seemed quite an important question to me, “hypothetical” or not, given that the present population of the UK is a bit less than 1% of the population of the world and so the absolute upper limit would be a hundred-fold increase in the population. At the moment, the other aspect being that each year the world population increases by more than the present UK population:

      http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

      Not that I am saying that the entire world population would ever seek to come here, of course that would never happen unless everywhere else in the world was becoming completely uninhabitable for some reason, but it means that without controls and a limit on immigration we could see the UK population doubling, trebling or more without the rest of the world even noticing the loss.

      • Richard1
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

        Yes immigration was a policy question. But the rest was rubbish about his relationship with his brother, how ‘tough’ he is and what he looks like. No questions about whether he thinks the last Labour govt was wrong to run a 5% structural deficit at the height of a boom, allow a near trebling of bank leverage, screw up bank regulation, sell the gold, sign 3 federalist treaties and introduce futile and expensive gesture laws like the climate change act. Nor any questions about where tax increases or spending cuts will come from. It was not in any way an incisive interview.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          I would agree with that, both with Miliband and Cameron major areas of policy were simply not mentioned.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Miliband would be a disaster. For me, the low points were:

      -He said the previous Labour government hadn’t done enough on equality. He’s obviously been got at by the feminists and told by Harman that the photocopier boy will be locked in the cupboard unless more gender equality is on the agenda

      -the Mansion tax is just a random redistribution in the UK… he believes in the UK sticking together and will tax the English to feed the Scots whatever it takes.

      For what it’s worth I think either this guy will get in but be shown the door in 6 months and there will be another election, else Cameron will form a minority government temporarily, resign and the Tories regroup under a different leader with an election 6 months later.

      There is no reason not to vote UKIP this time around.

      • Richard1
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        Er…yes there is actually. According to the most recent poll UKIP are likely to get 2 seats. That means voting UKIP results in Miliband, most likely in some sort of deal with the SNP. Forget any EU referendum.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          So if some people decide to vote for the UKIP candidate instead of voting for the Labour candidate as they have always done in the past, it having at long last dawned that the Labour party doesn’t actually care two hoots about them, and the Tory candidate wins, how does that work out as “voting UKIP results in Miliband”?

  10. Ian wragg
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Zero hours contracts are good for pensioners like me with no debts and seven and sixpence in the bank. Politicians should be put on zero hours contracts because the job doesn’t warrant a full time salary. Especially as you are slowly handing over UK plc to Brussels. The end game is in sight.

    • Jerry
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      @Ian wragg; “Politicians should be put on zero hours contracts because the job doesn’t warrant a full time salary”

      As pensioner you have time to watch the BBC Parliament channel, you can do so via your computer if needed, should you actually bother to find out the sort of work and the hours MPs actually work -not forgetting the time spent working in their constituencies- you might not be so glib in your suggestion they get paid on an hourly rate, although I expect most MPs would jump at the chance of (what would in effect) be a pay rise!

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 29, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        Unless the MP is named either Carswell or Reckless, when there can be no excuse for his absence from the chamber during an important debate on something or other … I’ve already forgotten what it was …

        Reply Immigration, borders and the EU1

        • Jerry
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          @Denis Cooper; But not being in the HoC chamber doesn’t mean that they were not engaged on parliamentary business, the (justifiable) criticism those two MPs came under was that of their time management, not that of any possibly skiving off (I hope that word is OK to use)! I even suggested that they might have been so employed, or in debate elsewhere than the main chamber.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted March 30, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

            Yes, “… not being in the HoC chamber doesn’t mean that they were not engaged on parliamentary business” is just what I said, and I’m glad that you’ve come round to that.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 30, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper; You really do take the ‘vino’ at times! That is what myself and our host was saying originally, it was you who tried to argue that time management and being on the floor of the chamber for the debate from the start and thus being able to make a speech didn’t matter as they “couldn’t influence the result anyway” or words to that effect.

  11. Richard1
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Opportunity for an £11 billion public expenditure cut for the Conservative manifesto – eg to fund a tax cut: abolish Ed Miliband’s £11 be smart meter programme which according to the Parliamentary committee which has looked into it is an IT disaster project in the making. It’s EU mandated so stick it on the list for renegotiation. Is there time to get this open goal into the Comservative manifesto?

    On another topic we have another example of the utter fatuousness and lack of any private sector experience of Miliband and the Labour gang – the absurd proposal to cap ‘profits’ of private sector health providers at ‘5%’. Miliband will find both terms very difficult to define. If he does manage to cap prices at a level which doesn’t offer an economic return he will find there are no providers. That’s the problem with prices and incomes policies as we found in the 1970s.

  12. oldtimer
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Exactly. It all depends on your needs and circumstances.

    But we are now in electioneering mode – the season above all others for silly questions and, more often than not, even sillier answers.

    • turbo terrier
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Spot on old timer spot on

  13. Chris S
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I have to disagree.

    Zero Hours contracts is the only policy issue on which I have agreed with Labour and disagreed with the Conservatives in more than 40 years of watching politics.

    I support the concept of flexibility and in practice businesses and employees should be free to agree any arrangement that suits both parties. The problem is that current ZHs arrangements smack of exploitation, particularly those offered by larger employers.

    I believe that any flexible hours contract should have a set minimum number of hours in a month, maybe equivalent to one morning or one full day a week and, if the minimum specified hours are less than, say, 25 a week, the employer should not be allowed to insist on exclusivity.

    That would redress the balance.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      I agree that a major step forward would be to introduce a minimum number of hours per week before exclusivity can be enforced. This should be a legal requirement placed on employers.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      I think it is a restraint of trade to insist on exclusivity, so illegal anyway. Really these jobs are only suitable to get a foot on the ladder. I don’t defend companies employing people in this way, as I think it goes contrary to the spirit of the employee-employer relationship, but in an industry and skill level rife with “no-shows” (the mirror image of zero-hours) perhaps employers have to juggle with their workforce just to stay in business…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        Surely it is just a contract freely entered into between the employer and employee – if you do not want the job do not take it and find another one.

        • Jerry
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          @LL: “if you do not want the job do not take it and find another one”

          So says Lifelogic whilst enjoying his early semi-retirement as an ex-pat…

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 29, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Then do not sign one.

    • alan jutson
      Posted March 29, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Chris

      Think exclusivity has been banned now, at least that is what I understand to be the case, and quite right too.

  14. Edward2
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    A friend owns a pub restaurant.
    They employ over 10 full time staff but retain a list of over 30 on what he calls flexible hours.
    Or zero hours as the propagandists like to refer to them.
    Most are students who come in on busy days ie weekends, some evenings, Bank Holidays and when there are other sudden large bookings.
    This suits the students who have to work around their varying University timetables and their own holidays.
    He tries to predict his requirements with them and develops a weekly rota, but sometimes phones round on the day to see who can come in, if there is a sudden rush.
    There is no compulsion.

    Customers do not always arrive in predictable numbers, pre booked.
    Yet he needs to provide top quality service when they suddenly do.

    Employment legislation is now so complex that this is the only way he can manage his staff v customer balance sensibly for the benefit of all involved.

    • A different Simon
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Your friend may well be an example of a good Zero Hours Contract employer and the business may well lend itself to that sort of relationship .

      I suspect that a student will be able to say no more than once before he/she is removed from the list .

      My relative who has been on zero hours contract is so terrified he wouldn’t dare say no .

      The unscrupulous operators fire people who say no to intimidate the others .

      • Edward2
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        It depends if there are no other opportunities for those not phoned again when they kerp saying they are not available.
        I see many opportunities.
        So not quite so slave labour as you claim.
        I would suggest youf relative keeps looking around for a less stressful job.

        • A different Simon
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

          He is constantly looking around but cannot hand his notice in until he has something in writing .

          He was also self employed for several years until the business eventually failed .

          When he tried to get back into his original field ( hotels ) , he discovered that it has become an eastern european closed shop .

          A points based immigration system would have offered protection to people at the bottom of the foodchain like him .

          He doesn’t need a less stressful job , he needs a more scrupulous employer .

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 29, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Exactly it is a free agreement, if you do not like do not do it.

  15. Leslie Singleton
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Dear John–This with its “mights” and reference to fairness is your do-gooder side showing through and I for one am not impressed. It is the modern world and I reckon unnatural.; for my money provided no-one is forced in to such a contract there is very little to talk about. And there is one point of view conspicuously absent in your piece: not a scintilla on that of the employer who believe it or not might not himself always have work to provide. How can it make sense even to consider stopping him providing what work he can when he can how he can?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Postscript–Yes I am using the word “modern” (think modernisers) pejorativerly

  16. John E
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    The issue of course is the balance of power between the two parties. If the employee has no real choice but to accept the zero hours contract then the employer is able to exploit their employees as many do.
    Freedom of movement of labour from a depressed EU creates an abundance of supply and destroys the employee’s bargaining power. This also explains the absence of wage inflation.

    • acorn
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Agreed John E. The exemplar for the globalisation of labour and the casualisation it has degraded to, is Germany and unification with East Germany.

      Ten million extra workers enter the labor market overnight, putting huge downward pressure on wages that becomes obvious to West Germans around 1994. The German Auto industry, for one, starts sourcing components from East Germany and other eastern bloc countries. German exports get even more competitive. German trade unions get crushed by open door immigration and basically give up trying to get wage increases for productivity increases.

      There follows two decades of squeezed wages and a bigger German welfare system. Now Germany is creating “mini-jobs” for its young unemployed, with low pay; low hours service sector jobs. UK zero hours jobs are basically what Germany has been doing for the last ten years.

    • Jerry
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      @John E; See my reply to Mondeo Man above, whilst it depends on what the type of business is obviously, it might not be the over-supply of local labour (be it indigenous or migrant) that is making a company exploit the cost flexibility that ZH contracts allows, it might well be cheaper off-shore competitors. I believe it is called, and is an effect of, Globalisation…

    • A different Simon
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Yep .

      Completely true .

      A supply teacher has the option of saying no .

      People on zero hours contracts don’t . The employers sack anyone who says no to intimidate the others .

      To equate the two is just naive and people who are trying to do so clearly have no idea what life is like for those people at the bottom of the foodchain who due to lack of ability or other reasons are destined to stay there .

      I don’t remember the current level of exploitation back in the days I was getting temporary work through employment agencies .

  17. Kenneth
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    This is purely a matter between the employee and employer. It is no-one else’s business.

    NB I see that Labour want doctor’s practices to limit their profits to 5% …or have I missed something?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Kenneth–I think I read that GP’s are excluded

    • Jerry
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      @Kenneth; “This is purely a matter between the employee and employer. It is no-one else’s business.”

      Yes and we all know who will almost certainly get to hold all the high value cards in that game of poker!

      If those wanting to hold all the high value cards didn’t abuse the other player, and even dealer, then there would be no need for the casino management to enforce new house rules…

      • Kenneth
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        I agree. While draconian employment laws restrict companies’ desire to give people a job, we still have many out of work, giving the employer the better poker hand.

        We need to get rid of most of these laws, such as the minimum wage, strikers protection etc etc and allow a free market in employment.

        Only then will we have parity so that staff can go elsewhere if they are not happy with their work conditions.

        It is this kind of interference in private contracts between employers and employees that has lead to the imbalance you describe.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        Here in the Midlands Jerry employers are short of staff in shops restaurants and warehouses.
        Staff available to work part time are in demand.

        • Jerry
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          @Edward2; “Here in the Midlands Jerry employers are short of staff in shops restaurants and warehouses.”

          Sounds like the Midlands could benefit from hard working eastern european migrants then… Always assuming that the lack of staff is not due to an epidemic of “lazyitous” amongst the young, able bodied, unemployed indigenous population. Ho-hum!

          • Edward2
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

            I fail to see what actual point you are making Jerry apart from arguing against anything anyone else posts.

            In my time as an employer the greatest problems I had was with young white British.
            The best employees were young new European immigrants and local young ethnic community males and females.
            Im not sure if that is PC to say that Jerry but Im sure you will have a view.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; Sorry Edward, my comments were not directed at you personally. If printed out there would be reams of comments from certain people on our hosts site complaining that the UK is so over-run by eastern European migrant labour that they are taking all the jobs, then you come along and state that the Midlands can’t fill vacancies! Not sure if there is a “emicon” for exasperation…

            “The best employees were young new European immigrants and local young ethnic community males and females. Im not sure if that is PC to say that Jerry but Im sure you will have a view.

            Indeed Edward, something we seem to agree on.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

            I have not noticed many comments of that nature on here Jerry
            Ive never felt jobs are finite.
            As the opoulation increases job opportunities also increase.
            Its plain many growing industries in our growing economy need more staff and they get those from the many recent enthusiastic new arrivals.

            Its more about our ability to provide the infrastructure to keep up with our rapidly increasing population.

            And a feeling we are not bothering to improve and train up our long term unemployed so they can compete for the many vacancies.

          • A different Simon
            Posted March 29, 2015 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

            Of course the Eastern European migrant workers are the best because there is a natural selection process so that only the most motivated Eastern Europeans come to the UK .

            The problem is that many of them take jobs which they are over qualified for .

            The least able Briton’s who were reliant on these jobs are through no fault of their own unable to compete with the immigrants .

            Jerry , how would you feel if your child was a less able Briton and unable to get work because of an influx of bright sparks from abroad ?

            Maybe you would be less of a hostage to dogma .

            Why do you have so little sympathy with the poorest Briton’s who are the ones who have suffered the most from mass immigration ?

          • Edward2
            Posted March 30, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

            My advice to your relative would be stop trying to compete.
            Consider other ways of earning a living.
            Retraining if possible, or learning a completely new skill.
            Perhaps moving to an area that has growth and vacancies needs to be considered.

            Its tough out there. I am sympathetic. It is something I had to do when world competition suddenly impacted many UK manufacturing and engineering businesses.

            There is no easy cure. Globalisation has its negatives.
            But how many of us try to buy UK made products to support UK companies and jobs?
            Very few is my experience.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 30, 2015 at 8:02 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; “I have not noticed many comments of that nature on here “

            Non so blind as those who choose not to see I guess…

            @ADS; “how would you feel if your child was a less able Briton and unable to get work because of an influx of bright sparks from abroad ?”

            I would ask myself why they are less able to compete, then move mountains (such as making sure they take any and every opportunity to improved their education [1] for example) to enable them to compete with the reality of today job market, not try to build a time machine and hark back to some pre Globalisation age.

            [1] for example the level of general knowledge is astonishingly low in my experience with the current generation of youth, yet they are the generation who have had the benefit of the internet, but alas their access is so often wasted

            “Maybe you would be less of a hostage to dogma.”

            I’m not the one hostage to dogma, people like you are!

            “Why do you have so little sympathy with the poorest Briton’s who are the ones who have suffered the most from mass immigration ?”

            I have every sympathy for the poorest, assuming that they want to help themselves, not find scapegoats.

          • A different Simon
            Posted March 30, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

            Jerry ,

            If your reasons for opposing reservation of jobs for less able Britain’s is not due to political dogma , then what is the reason for it ?

          • A different Simon
            Posted March 30, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

            Edward2 ,

            Thanks for the suggestion about retraining , learning a new trade .

            I will pass it on to him and have a think myself what he may be capable of .

            Although he isn’t the most capable , he was always aspirational and ironically has always voted Conservative ….

            Whatever else the communists got wrong in Poland , they understood the need for quality education for all and established a good school system to deliver it – the legacy of which persists .

            When they were admitted to the EU there was a whole Govt inspired training industry out training people up to work internationally . Hospitality was one of the areas they focused on .

          • Jerry
            Posted March 30, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

            ADS; The UK doesn’t exist in a vacuum, for every action there will be a reaction, do you realise just how many UK citizens are working in the EU alone, never mind that their spouses and children often live outside the UK as well, then there are all the ex-pats living abroad and whilst many are of retirement age many are not and then there are their children too and perhaps grand-children. Simply putting up “No Entry” signs doesn’t work, unless you are going to stop ex-pats from flooding back to old-blighty too…

          • Ted Monbiot
            Posted March 31, 2015 at 7:31 am | Permalink

            A very odd argument from you again Jerry.

            No one is talking about deporting anyone.
            Talk is about a reduction from our current level which is too high.

            And it would be impossible to stop UK citizens living abroad from coming back here if they want to.

          • Jerry
            Posted March 31, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

            @Ted Monbiot; Some people seem to want to restrict what types of employment migrants will be able to take, I was replying to one such comment (“…opposing reservation of jobs for less able Britain’s”…), if the UK starts reserving certain jobs then what would stop other countries restricting those jobs (and don;’t even mention health care) to from UK citizens/passport holders living in their countries.

            No none wants a trade-war, why do some want the next worse option, which will almost certain leave some with no option than to return “home”.

            “it would be impossible to stop UK citizens living abroad from coming back here if they want to.”

            That is exactly my point, and if they did many employers would wish to make use of such people far more than the over insular indigenous who might not have a second language nor the cultural benefits from having lived in another (and perhaps their customers own) country, never mind perhaps a better work ethic -even those who return from southern Med countries, were working earlier mornings or later evenings is the norm.

          • Ted Mombiot
            Posted March 31, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

            Actually Jerry my only reason posting was to stop you having the last word on every thread on here.

  18. Andyvan
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    What a pity MPs aren’t on zero hours contracts. That would really be a boon to the British economy.

  19. English Pensioner
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    There are lots of jobs which might be described as zero hours contracts. I had one as a teenager, I was the reserve paper-boy, if one of the regular boys didn’t turn up, I got a call to come and do his round.
    More recently, my sister had one as a supply teacher, she was called in if a regular teacher was absent for some reason and it effectively provided her with a part-time job which was what she wanted.
    In both cases the situation was acceptable, it provided some income when it wasn’t possible to work full time. People should be free to make their own choices; no-one, as far as I’m aware, is actually forced to take such a contract.

    • A different Simon
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      English Pensioner ,

      Do you think people are taking these arrangements by choice ?

      They will be sanctioned from job seekers allowance if they don’t take these arrangements and they are terrible .

      There is very little similarity with your Sister’s situation as a supply teacher .

      People on a zero hours contract can’t take a day sick either . No sick pay , just the sack instead .

      It’s a case of “Beatings will continue until morale improves” .

  20. A different Simon
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    No you can’t .

    I’ve got relatives who have been reduced to this level thanks to the type of low paid work they did going to overqualified foreigners .

    It has cost me personally thousands of pounds to keep them from going under and my mother over 10 thousand pounds per year for the past 4 years to keep them in their house and their children in their schools .

    The children’s school work has suffered due to the stress on them .

    I live in fear of one of the parents doing themselves a mischief thanks to the abject hopelessness of their situation .

    Please pass on my gratitude to Blair , Mandelson , Miliband , Cameron and Clegg when you see them .

    • A different Simon
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      To clarify the children are of course in state schools as everyone in my family has been since the beginning of time .

      My point is that if they ended up homeless shipped from hostel to hostel (or worse taken into care) their education would suffer even more .

  21. Tony Houghton
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    John

    Are the Conservatives proposing to change Benefits that will affect those on a zero hours contract?

    Reply I know of no such plans. Why would they want to?

    • Jerry
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      @Tony Houghton; You expect any party to answer a question like that before 10pm on Polling day?!

  22. Atlas
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    John, what you say is reasonable – however the way IDS speaks I have this instinctive feeling that the hidden agenda is just to massage the unemployment figures down, and that he could not care less what happens to the individuals. The DWP has form on unfair sanctioning and Cameron’s response to Paxman’s question on food-banks showed a lack of interest in what is actually happening. Cameron mentioned the ‘big picture’ a couple of times – eh? I thought that was a Blair spin line…

  23. Paul Cohen
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    This used to be known as “Casual Labour” and it was as it says on the box – take it or leave it, a loose arrangement!

    Trying to formalise it rather misses the point, and it would be up to the individual to negotiate a better hourly rate/extended hours etc. A prospective employer may be put off if they find themselves drawn into a straight jacketed arrangement.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Correct. Men gathered at the dock gates or outside the building site or whatever, some of them were given a day’s work and the rest are turned away. That’s how it was, now it’s not much different except that with modern communications there’s no longer any need for them to physically foregather looking for work and so they don’t get physically turned away. Just as those with no work no longer have to queue up outside the labour exchange in order to get the dole. On the other hand, my father was officially a casual worker in the print for very many years, but despite that he always had regular, predictable, and enough, work.

      • Paul Cohen
        Posted March 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        I was also in print- for over forty years.

        The industry then was very unionised. Trying to get someone on a temporary basis was a complete nightmare, having to deal with the NGA or NATSOPA who wanted to be in on the act. In the end it was less hassle to try to cover the need with overtime from existing workforce.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          I thought somebody might pick up on that. The unions were strong and although my father was not particularly left-wing he would talk about the Chapel and the Father thereof. He was in the NUPBPW, which merged with NATSOPA to form SOGAT, a change which he didn’t much like.

        • Jerry
          Posted March 30, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          @Paul Cohen; Of course nowadays part-time/temporary workers and their employers often find they have to go via the services of an employment agency (rather than the trade union), the same nightmare for many, often involving a percentage of wages paid to boot.

  24. Liz
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I am more concerned with unpaid “internships” – many of which are getting workers for nothing and provide no training whatsoever, than zero hours contracts. You certainly cannot live on nothing so such positions favour those with famiies who can support them.

  25. bigneil
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Why bother with a zero-hours contract? How many thousands of no-intention-of-ever-working dossers have walked in and stuck their hands out, only to be given everything for free, what WE have had to pay for? And we have an Australian woman, working with her husband in their coffee shop, about to be deported under our wonderfully sensible immigration rules, yet foreign terrorists, paedophiles and murderers all have “rights” to bleed us dry and stay here, on our taxes. Quite honestly John – -have you lot in Westminster got any idea of the damage you are doing? – -or is our destruction deliberate? – -I would say that most people agree with the second one.

    • Jerry
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      @bigneil; “How many thousands of no-intention-of-ever-working dossers have walked in and stuck their hands out, only to be given everything for free [../rant/..]”

      Far less than the many (tens of ?) thousands of UK indigenous, able bodied, working age who have done likewise.

  26. DaveM
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I don’t care about zero hours contracts.

    I want to know what the Tory Manifesto is going to offer the people of England – those people who might vote the Tory Party into power. It’s nearly April and no real detail has emerged on EVEL.

    I know this is totally off-topic, but lots of people ask similar questions here, and considering the sub-title/strapline of the website we don’t get many answers.

  27. UlyssesTheGod
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    One will never get a Mortgage on zero contracts. Having said that, not owning a house is less of a constraint on finding work anywhere it’s located

  28. BobE
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    All government cars should be electric. This would show a concern about CO2 emmissions.

  29. alte fritz
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    If the employer needs someone for known fixed hours, they are only too anxious to secure them. Zero hours, or casual work as it was known, is there to cater for the contingency that there is no work to do and no income to pay for the worker not doing it.

    Do Labour prefer that workers who want zero hours should end up with no hours because the employer cannot risk hiring for a fixed time?

    In a sane world, this election would be a foregone conclusion.

  30. fedupsouthener
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Big Neil and Lifelogic as they sum up the situation precisely. So many people are sick to death of the situation regarding immigration, low wages and people just sitting at home skimming off what they can from our taxes. We all know who they are and I am sure the authorities do too in many cases but still they get away with it and then go on to collect their pensions when they hit 65 using their credits they have been given for free.

    The ‘green loons’ are really responsible for the biggest con of all time and we can look forward to more deaths due to people unable to afford their bills and billions wasted with more billions in the pipeline to fund what is the most stupid of policies. It hasn’t even achieved what it was supposed to have done. Reduce CO2!!! Many would say it isn’t an important factor anyway but what the hell…..it’s only money!!

  31. William Gruff
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I would be happy with any income, even an ‘insecure’ one on a zero hours contract. I was self-employed for years and that was insecure. I’ve been without any sort of income for nearly five years and am seemingly unemployable at 59. Having a zero hours contract seems very appealing to me.

  32. William Gruff
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    All sensible parties and politicians want people to have well paid jobs.

    There’s the nub of the problem: we could sort ourselves, and the economy, out in no time were politicians to do as we want and not decide for themselves what we want. Keep your noses out of our business and your hands out of our pockets and we’ll do very nicely, thank you.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Re “All sensible parties and politicians want people to have well paid jobs.” its not true though is it… Many want lax entry to this country, and high numbers of work visas issued in skills already in oversupply, simply to depress wages in this country. Pretending anything else is a mistake.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 29, 2015 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        That is the truth of the matter. While an employer knows that he can just replace his workforce with foreign labour he has the whip hand, and most of the politicians we elect have no problem with that.

  33. turbo terrier
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    As sad as it is for those on zero hour contracts especially those with a built in work ethic, You have to play the cards as they are dealt. It was always said that it is easier to apply for a job when you are in some sort of work than when you are on benefit. At least with a ZHC you show to a potential employer that you are prepared to work.

    As a by the side the news has CMD banging on as always about the NHS. It doesn’t matter how much money is thrown at it they are only providing solutions and not addressing the real problem. My specialist is one of a team of 14 and it is controlled by 6 managers and his nursing staff have all been reduced by one for each department to “save money”.

    The contributors to todays entry highlight that that are far bigger areas of concern quite rightly so and still the leadership ignore the bleeding obvious that there a lot of people in the real world that are hurting and very tired of hearing the same old tune.

    What with the rantings of the SNP at their conference talking about controlling England through Labour it really is time for our lot to wake up and smell the coffee. I fear that a lot of our existing politicians are sleep walking towards oblivion.

    The government has done a lot right but so much is totally wrong and their policies are tearing the heart out of the poorest in society in key areas of housing, high energy prices and living standards.

    Like the ZHC and NHS change has got to happen very quickly, we need the critical mass on our side if we want to keep the Scottish hordes away from dominating Westminster if England is to survive.

    The billions wasted on all the green crap and not one percentage point of reduction in CO2 if GB plc was run along proper business lines the DECC would have been disbanded as not fit for purpose. The legacy of the 1000s of turbines north of the border will be a debt burden that we will struggle to shed well into the next two parliaments. When you add all the solar panels and bio mass boilers that are taking money out of the system is it any wonder the country is struggling?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 29, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      But even if all of the 59 MPs elected in Scotland acted together they could not dominate Westminster unless the other 591 MPs allowed that to happen.

      • William Gruff
        Posted March 29, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        Denis Cooper:

        But even if all of the 59 MPs elected in Scotland acted together they could not dominate Westminster unless the other 591 MPs allowed that to happen.

        This risible tosh is routinely trotted out by Scots without realising that they show themselves to be either unbelievably stupid or unacceptably disingenuous. Coming from a country whose regional assembly is elected by PR one might expect them to think twice before offering it, unless they think the English as unbelievably stupid as they.

        Look at your own recent political history, and that of Wales and Northern Ireland, to see how very small parties can wield disproportionate power where no one party has a working majority.

        That aside, the ‘British’ government under Labour was absolutely dominated by Scotch MPs, with an obviously pro Scotch agenda, and the present PM is Scotch, with an obviously pro Scotch agenda. Something like a hundred or so supposedly English MPs are Scotch, which may be why the ‘British’ government shows no concern for the interests of the people of England.

        Scotland has dominated England politically for far too long but, hopefully, that situation will soon be ended.

        Here’s to a SNuLab coalition and independence for England.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

          It’s “simple arithmetic” rather than “risible tosh”; if the MPs elected in the rest of the UK, and above all in England, were not prepared to allow domination of Westminster by the MPs elected in Scotland then it could never happen. I suggest that rather than blaming the Scots, as usual, you should look at how the English vote and what kind of MPs they elect as their supposed representatives.

          • William Gruff
            Posted April 2, 2015 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

            Denis Cooper:

            My reply to your reply to my reply to your your comment was not approved by our host, who thinks he speaks for England.

            What a mess we’re in when those who think they speak for England prevent Englishmen from speaking for themselves.

            I understand that this is his private public forum but if he really wishes to speak for England he must show himself to be unafraid of controversy. Is England so degraded that no one now has the balls to risk his balls for England?

    • sm
      Posted March 29, 2015 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      You may be surprised at how competitive these renewables & technology have become.

      https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/cfd-auction-allocation-round-one-a-breakdown-of-the-outcome-by-technology-year-and-clearing-price

      They also reduce imports and sustain local activity.

      There are worse things to waste money on or you could see it as start to being energy self sufficient.

      Compare the costs with proposed nuclear builds like Hinkley.

  34. Iain Gill
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    The political class really need to decide how they want genuine freelancers to operate. The labour party is screaming about those that operate through umbrella companies, paying their full whack in national insurance and tax in the process. All the political class continue to scream about those using single person personal service companies as the legal construct, complaining about IR35 (which is never enforced anyways) and lack of tax paid (trying to stop people working for the public sector through this construct) and so on. There are mixed messages about what should and shouldn’t be claimable as expenses, some can claim travel to work, others cannot, many of the big consultancies routinely legally base their staff at home (as do many umbrellas) so that the instant they walk out of the house any journey is claimable tax free, others are paying their journey to work out of taxed income. Mixes messages about tax, take it as dividend, or not, seems to be subject to many sanctimonious nonsense.
    Insecure work is insecure work, forcing the employer to jump through bells and whistles does not fix that. Bullying and harassment at work remains that regardless of the legal mechanism of hire.
    And so very much more.

  35. A different Simon
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Here is the acid test .

    Would people treat their own children/relatives this way ?

    Would they be happy for other people to ?

  36. forthurst
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    “No, you cannot live on a zero hours contract if the rate of pay is low and the hours on offer are limited.”

    Well you might if you qualified for top-up benefits. In that situation, it is the employer who is exploiting the taxpayer.

  37. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Where do you stand on who should pay for transport costs to and from places of work? If a person has a full time job, he/she pays for commuter costs, normally 10 journeys per week. It should be different for a zero hours employee working (say) four three quarter slots at different places on a single day.

  38. Know Dice
    Posted March 29, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I think that there could be a certain amount of “fine tuning” of the law around “Zero Hours Contracts”.

    From the experience of my son, there should be a minimum time period that each party can give to cancel a “booked” shift. Typically my son would be booked to say work 6 hours on a Sunday afternoon, he would get a call Sunday morning saying he was not needed… I would like to see 24 hours notice to cancel a shift.

    At other times he has been sent home part way in to a shift as they (Showcase Cinema, Winnersh) were not busy – I would like to see the employer honor any booked hours once the shift has started.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 29, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Well, he could wait and hope that there will be a law. or perhaps he could join a union which would represent the collective interests of contract workers in his line and put pressure on employers to adopt more reasonable terms? But the latter is less likely to be effective it an employer can simply say “Like it or lump it, I can easily get some foreign workers in to replace you”.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted March 30, 2015 at 7:11 am | Permalink

        Actually, what he did was have three zero hours jobs and managed to convert one of them to full-time with a “blue chip” retailer 🙂

        So, now he is on a good career path, but could have done without the shenanigans of zero hours…

  39. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted March 29, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I brought 2 children alone , paid for 2 degrees, and paid for a house on a 100% mortgage with zero hours contracts. I would not wish it on anyone. Ths skills one acquires competing ,existing, forgetting about self and a personal life are boundless and who does it help ? the people who are kept on a ladder and have large salaries and come from other countries. We pay large taxes , live a selfless life and have no rewards.

    Perhaps I could talk about figures and percentages , but this does not reflect competence and quality. I am sick of hearing how we spent this and we spent that.Does it work ? no …

    I am quite capable of speaking in a far back voice dressing smartly and pesenting myself in front of anyone with a few ideas which have been spun around again and again, but what does this prove .. nothing….. wake up society.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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