Zero hours contracts have been a hot topic in employment for some time and many employers and individuals are aware of the use of such contracts.
For an explanation of zero hours contracts see our previous article here.
Concerns about zero hours contracts have been raised by unions and other organisations representing individuals with the general concern that they do not offer stable employment and allow for the exploitation of individuals (such as in the heavily reported case of retailer Sports Direct). Others suggest that the flexibility of zero hours contracts is a positive for many individuals working under them. Those against zero hours contracts have even called for a ban of such contracts as has been implemented in New Zealand.
The Independent and The Financial Times have reported that the bank Santander has recently advertised vacancies for a “one hour per month” contract which appears to be a variation of what would otherwise be known as a zero hours contract. The contracts offered are for “on call staff” with a guarantee of one hour per month being offered as a minimum with further work provided as and when required.
Whilst the use of a “one hour” contract may seem a disingenuous way to avoid a zero hours contract, Santander reported that 371 staff working under such contracts, on average, worked 386 hours a year. This may say more about the use of zero or limited hours contracts than it does about the existence of such contract at all. It also highlights the fact that a ban on zero hours contracts altogether may not really deal with the problem of exploitative use of zero or limited hours contracts if all an unscrupulous employer has to do is commit to one hour per month or a similar low minimum commitment to avoid the contract being a zero hour contract.