Why the UK Government was right not to ban zero hour contracts.
The UK business secretary, Vince Cable today said that zero hour contacts had a place in the UK Labour market.
It’s clear that these contracts suit certain people and certain situations more than others. Zero hour contracts may suit a student who fits the flexible hours around their study time, they would may not be so suited for a 40 year old family man trying to provide for his family. This needs to be taken into account when assessing their future.
A common negative people sometimes throw at zero hour contracts is that they give the power to the company and the workers can be abused, especially regarding when your hours work. Undoubtly this is what our 40 year old family man would fear. However like everything in life you need to turn the negative into a positive. If they do this to you, they can’t complain when they ask you to work, say a Monday and you turn around smiling and say ‘sorry, busy’. Obviously continual use of this tactic would probably result in termination on your ‘contract’ however using this negotiating a tactic a few times will let the company and manager know that you are mentally strong are prepared to do anything to get what you want. When they see character traits like this they will perhaps offer you a better contract and if not look for another job whilst working for them. See the zero hours contract as a stepping stone not a long term solution.
Low income is another problem workers and trade unions say is a problem for people on zero hour contracts. Well the solution to this is as I said before. Turn the tables and take control yourself. If they are employing and denying job security, well they should expect the same in return. Get another zero hour contract job and use the two against each other, this will raise your income. When you get to know the managers phycology and what make them tick work out how you can manipulate the situation to your advantage. Prehaps when it’s the busiest time of the year and you are asked to do overtime you will mention the contract situation and suggest they offer you a few solid hours or double pay for that particular shift. Its all about the management and how highly you rate them as negotiators. The tactics I mention are a dangerous game but if you are skilled it can be pulled off and will also give you a massive confidence boost.
The question I would ask those whom oppose zero hour contracts (after answering their arguments) is simply that the positives far outweigh the negative once you take both the individual AND company into account. A key factor I feel that people sometimes miss is that zero hour contracts help the company who uses them, the company, if well managed zero hour contracts will help them grow and ultimately help more employ more people on longer contracts. Zero hour contracts are also no different in practice to freelancing, used by most company’s now. Are the people against zero hour contracts also against freelancers. Do they think freelancer.com and fiverr.com should be shut down? I doubt it, because the people there want to work and they help the employer with cheap labour. I think ultimately a lot of people fear zero hour contracts because they are worried they performance will not be good enough and they can be sacked more easily opposed to if they were on a regular contract. If they were a very good employee they would be kept on and treated accordingly.
The two points I have mentioned are no doubt problematic for a lot of people the key I feel to making a zero hour contract work is to not let them trample over you. If you act vulnerable and weak they will treat you badly but go to far the other way and you will be sacked, it’s a very fine line but you need to find it. My tip would be of course to use a zero hour contract as a stepping stone to a more permanent job, then of course base your notice period on how well they have treated you!
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