Zero hours vs Temping – Truly Flexible Working
There’s been a lot of talk lately regarding zero hours contracts. Much of this coverage has been looking at it from a negative perspective. It’s true, it doesn’t help with household cash flow when you don’t know what hours you are going to be working that week/month and sometimes inconsistent income can be worse than a steady flow of low income. At least with that you can cut your cloth accordingly, to coin a phrase.
However, there is also mileage in the argument, that if it wasn’t for the recession, there wouldn’t be a need for zero hours contracts, plus it really does help employers to have that flexibility, especially in cyclical industries, such as hospitality and manufacturing.
Zero hour contracts are by no means a new thing, but they are on the increase. They also help to keep unemployment figures low, as although you may not get work week in week out – you aren’t on the benefit system either. So, it would seem as with most things, it works for some and not for others.
Our main concern over this type of contract is the amount of people who agreed or signed up to them, without actually understanding what it means. Is this a by-product of internet terms and conditions? We all know that if we download the latest app we can’t use it without ticking the little T&Cs box – but how many of us take time to read those Terms & Conditions? Are we becoming so blasé about accepting terms that we sign employment contracts without reading them?
This is SO important. It’s how we earn a living; it’s how we feed our children; how we keep a roof over our heads. It must be read AND understood.
Zero hour contracts have also had an effect on employers using temping agencies, there’s no denying it. It means they can have their own pool of staff, on call, 24/7 without some of the charges.
However, temping benefits the worker so much more. If you are temping for one client and they have no work that week, you are perfectly within your rights to work for another employer, or even another agency, providing you comply with working time regulations etc.. You are not obliged to accept the work that week if you have other commitments – you have true flexibility.
What’s in it for the employer? The temps are managed by the agency, vetted, paid, engaged, disengaged. If one can’t work, we have a pool of people who can. In days gone by, temporary workers were paid a premium for their flexibility; the fact that they didn’t have a permanent contract often meant that they were paid more. This is rarely the case now, unless in the professional or specialist industries. Temps are often thought of as some sort of sub class, people who can’t hold down a job, people who don’t know what they want to do.
Well, we refute that. Temps are worth their weight in gold!
It takes a certain confidence to walk into a company, pick up a job, do it to the best of your ability and move on when the task is done. Look at locum doctors, pharmacists, supply teachers – they’re all temps.
So, let’s stop chuntering about zero hours and start celebrating the fact that the UK, still has a vibrant flexible working economy. Let’s praise our temps and thank them for the scrapes they get us out of, the sick and holiday cover they provide, the busy times they get us through and the low times, when we can take people on permanently.
Long live our temps! Because, they’re the people keeping those jobs open.1
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