Employment Minister Michael Woodhouse has employed the term [“flexibility”] liberally already, and no doubt he’ll wheel it out on several more occasions. Wait to hear it too, again and again, from anyone defending the right of companies to operate according to the intent of the Employment Relations Amendment Act passed last year, where they were granted almost complete carte blanche to dictate the working relationship.
Not only does the increase in the use of zero-hour contracts allow companies complete flexibility; they also have the advantage of roping the taxpayer into subsidising the shortfall when workers can’t pay their bills.
These contracts also help by making our job market appear to be booming, which may cast a little light and shade on the rosy labour force participation figures we were treated to in February, with a leap in the number of jobs.
It is the true quality of those jobs that the data didn’t address – and it should, given the strange situation that someone working as little as one hour a week can be treated, by statistics, as someone with a fulltime job.