27 April 2017 #Employment
Current figures suggest the number of people on zero-hours contracts in the UK hit a record high of 910,000 in the last 3 months of 2016.
Matthew Taylor, who is currently conducting a review for the government into modern employment practices and the “gig economy” (link to earlier blog here), suggested last week that businesses who employ people on zero-hours contracts could be forced to pay a premium rate, above minimum wage, in situations where the contract requires the worker to be on standby to work at short notice.
Taylor stated, “I think we can encourage employers to be a bit less lazy about transferring risk, even if it means [employers] offer 15 hours a week rather than one hour.”
This week, McDonald’s announced that it will offer 115,000 UK workers on zero-hours contracts the option of moving to fixed contracts with a minimum number of guaranteed hours every week. The company has explained that this is unrelated to political or public pressure and has been driven by its workers’ concerns about their ability to secure loans, mobile phone contracts and mortgages without a guaranteed income.
It appears that guaranteeing a minimum number of hours per week would avoid Taylor’s suggested measure. However, employers need to be aware that taking this step increases the probability that an individual will in fact be an “employee” rather than a “worker” (link to earlier blog here) when it comes to employment rights such as redundancy and unfair dismissal.