Zero Hour Contracts Have Zero Support

ISS staff at Royal Bolton Hospital emphatically reject Government claims that workers enjoy the flexibility of zero hour contracts. 

A UNISON survey of ISS staff across the Trust found that nearly a third of staff are currently employed on zero hour contracts. ISS staff deliver vital NHS services, work face-to-face with patients and play a crucial role in infection control.

Although the Conservative-led Government claim that zero hour contracts give workers flexibility, 100% of ISS staff employed on zero hour contracts – including porters, cleaners and domestics – said they would rather have permanently contracted hours. One UNISON member employed by ISS on a zero hour contract said:

“All the flexibility is on the side of the employer. If for some reason you can’t do a shift one week, then there will be less work on offer the following week.”

Over half of ISS staff on zero hour contracts said that, if they could change one thing at work, it would to be to secure a permanent contract with guaranteed hours. Indeed, many staff have been working zero hour contracts for a number of years – but without the security offered by permanent contracts.

Paul Foley, UNISON Regional Organiser said:

“The Government’s assertions that staff on zero hour contracts are happy with them does not match our members’ experience.  Zero hour contracts are designed by employers to push risk and uncertainty onto working people.  It is so difficult for households to plan and budget when working hours are irregular and there is no security of income.  These contracts do not provide the certainties to workers that we traditionally associate with employment.  It’s time that all workers had proper jobs with the security of guaranteed hours.”      

Nationally over 1.4m people are employed on zero hour contracts with no guaranteed minimum hours or pay, with the majority offered to women, young people and people over 65. This represents a rise of over 800,000 since Autumn 2013 – reflecting an increased casualisation of the labour force and erosion of working rights – and has been a key contributor to the rise of in-work poverty. 

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