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Labour takes a stand against zero-hour contracts

Written By: - Date published: 5:00 pm, February 12th, 2015 - 92 comments
Categories: business, employment, jobs, labour, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags: , , , , , ,

Iain Lees-Galloway, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues, has lodged a member’s bill which would ban the use of zero-hour contracts:

“Unlike casual agreements that provide flexibility for both employer and employee, zero-hour contracts require employees to be available for work at all times but place no expectations at all on employers to provide work.

“The Certainty at Work Bill requires employment agreements to include an indication of the hours an employee will have to work to complete the tasks expected of them. It maintains flexibility for employers while giving employees certainty about the amount of work they can expect to be offered.”

It’s an issue of basic fairness. When you don’t know how many hours you’re working from week to week, how are you supposed to budget? Plan ahead? Start saving the massive deposit you need before you can even imagine owning your own home?

Zero-hour contracts are most used in the food industry, as Unite national director Mike Treen notes:

“McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Burger King, Wendy’s – all of the contracts have no minimum hours, and so people can be – and are – rostered anywhere from three to 40 hours a week, or sometimes 60 hours a week, and it depends a lot on how you get on with your manager.”

At ANZ – whose CEO got an 11% pay rise last year – workers went on strike in late 2014 over the company not only refusing to give its workers a decent raise, but also demanding they allow for zero-hour-style “flexibility” in their rosters.

Even John Roughan suggested in December that Andrew Little should “make it Labour’s mission to propose [a legislative solution to the zero-hour problem] without delay.”

So a ban on zero-hour contracts seems to be an idea whose time has most definitely come. But is the Government which took away a basic guaranteed level of rest breaks going to step up and do what’s right?

92 comments on “Labour takes a stand against zero-hour contracts ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    If we really want a solution to zero-hour contracts then what we need is a UBI. With a UBI zero-hour contracts would no longer be a stick that employers could bash employees with. It would allow the flexibility that both employers and employees are seeking while also guaranteeing the security that people need to be able to plan their future.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      I don’t think employees seek flexibility and end up on a 0-hours contract.

      If an employee is seeking flexibility, they would choose to go onto a casual contract.

      • Clashman 1.1.1

        They don’t get to choose. Do you think employers say “right you’ve got the job, now would you like a casual contract or a zero hours contract?”

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.2

        This is one of those times I figure you took the blue pill, Lanth. Power imbalance between employer and employee much, much?

        • Lanthanide 1.1.2.1

          Er, Draco is saying with a UBI that a 0-hours contract would offer flexibility to both employees and employers. My point I’d that no employee would choose to go on a 0-hour contract instead of a casual contract.

          0-hour contracts don’t give flexibility to employees regardless of whether there is a UBI or not.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.3

        I’m figuring that people wouldn’t go on a contract at all but would simply invoice for the work done at the agreed rate. The UBI would allow them to do that.

        Yes, we need to address the laws to accept the new ways that things are being done but we should be looking at changing the laws so as to lock us into a 19th century path.

        Would be fun to watch the RWNJs scream about lack of loyalty from the people who no longer work for them but for themselves.

        • Lanthanide 1.1.3.1

          Having a contract gives both parties certainty.

          If you’re talking about generally unskilled or semi-skilled tasks where replacement workers are available more-or-less on-call, then that could work.

          But in professional jobs, I think both parties are best served by contracts.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.3.1.1

            Having a contract gives both parties certainty.

            A certainty that’s not needed if we have a UBI.

            But in professional jobs, I think both parties are best served by contracts.

            Builders in Auckland are contractors. They have a contract that covers the period worked. It covers the amount paid per hour and that’s about it. They leave when a job is finished or if either the builder or the developer decides that the builder needs to leave.

            Thing is, many professionals work on that sort of basis. There’s nothing wrong with it except in low paid jobs where you can be locked in, due to a contract, to sitting at the phone hoping that your employer will call. The UBI fixes that by having it so that people can look for other work at the same time.

            The labour exploiters will go the way of the dodo.

            • Lanthanide 1.1.3.1.1.1

              “A certainty that’s not needed if we have a UBI.”

              Um, personally I enjoy my top-tax bracket salary, and do indeed enjoy the certainty of my contract that allows me to predict that I will be able to pay my mortgage next month.

              Without a contract, I wouldn’t have as much certainty, and the UBI would hardly make up for the loss of such a contract.

              “Thing is, many professionals work on that sort of basis.”

              Not in my industry.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Two rather important points you seem to be missing:

                1. It’s not your industry being talked about – yet.
                2. I’m not talking about removing contracts altogether.

                Those people on zero-hour contracts are the people who can’t have the certainty of the unemployment benefit because they’ve got a job and don’t have the certainty of having enough hours in a week to afford the rent.

                A UBI would allow these people to have the certainty that you presently have of having a minimum income that would cover those basic expenses so that they can do piece-meal contracting. This would keep them employed on a more or less regular basis while also removing a large amount of power from employers to exploit these people.

                • Lanthanide

                  “Two rather important points you seem to be missing”

                  I only “missed” those points because you never actually made them clear in all of your preceding posts. I’m not a mind reader, nor would I want to presume what you’re really meaning, since you have some rather extreme left ideas in many areas.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    No, the problem was that you made assumptions that what I meant was to be applied to all employment rather than just those where zero-hour and casual contracts presently apply. It wasn’t something that I needed to make clear because I hadn’t even implied such a thing happening.

                    • Lanthanide

                      “No, the problem was that you made assumptions that what I meant was to be applied to all employment rather than just those where zero-hour and casual contracts presently apply.”

                      Except by your own admission, builders are professionals, and they are not on zero-hour or casual contracts. They are on fixed term contracts, which are different.

                      So once again, the only reason I was mislead, is because you weren’t being clear about what you were speaking about.

    • ankerawshark 1.2

      Yes Draco TB, but a UBI isn’t going to come anytime soon, so this is an excellent start from Labour.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1

        Andrew Little has mentioned it a time or two and the Greens have it as policy IIRC. This would be better than nothing but a UBI is the actual solution that they’re looking for.

        • A UBI also has approximately SFA chance of getting passed in this term of Parliament, whereas the zero-hours issue is gathering some steam and the Nats might just be clever enough to take it on board to “prove” their rhetoric about employment law fairness.

          • ankerawshark 1.2.1.1.1

            100+ Stephanie Rodgers

          • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.1.2

            I’m not expecting anything from this government that benefits workers at all.

          • aspasia 1.2.1.1.3

            And we don’t need to reinvent the wheel in terms of how to do this stuff. This publication analyses what happens in a range of European jurisdictions and then say what the UK should do.

            http://www.ier.org.uk/publications/re-regulating-zero-hours-contracts

            The whole website is highly recommended…subscribe or get your union to subscribe.

          • Coffee Connoisseur 1.2.1.1.4

            Maybe so, but without such things as UBI in discussions like this so that readers can understand the multitude of issues that a thing such as UBI will solve it will be an even longer time before something like UBI is put on the political table as a viable solution to many of the problems that we as a society face.

            • Stephanie Rodgers 1.2.1.1.4.1

              The UBI gets plenty of spotlight around here! I don’t have a problem with people discussing it, but dissing this member’s bill and saying a UBI is the “only solution” ignores the reality of the three more years of National government we’re stuck with.

    • adam 1.3

      So lets ask for bugger all and be grateful.

      Lets let the right set the agenda again

      Time to go back to sleep – let me know when the people with an semblance of a back bone start talking.

      Please – if you ask for scraps from Tory scum – they will kick you, whilst you are asking.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.3.1

        So lets ask for bugger all and be grateful.

        Where did I say that?

        Lets let the right set the agenda again

        Nope. You may not have noticed but National are against a UBI. The rason for this is because it removes power over the workers from the employees and from government. Can’t threaten the workers with low wages and being kicked off the unemployment benefit when they have a guaranteed income that will keep them above the poverty line.

        Time to go back to sleep – let me know when the people with an semblance of a back bone start talking.

        And what have I said over the last seven years on this board that gave you the idea that I don’t have a backbone?

        Really, everything you said there comes across as an ignorant whinge.

        • adam 1.3.1.1

          Draco T Bastard – No was just flummoxed by the responses to your statements.

          I responded to you to be placed at the bottom of discussion. I apologise if you feel I was attacking you in anyway – I was not. I agree with what you said.

          I disagreed with what people said to you in response.

          And I do believe that some on this site need to realise – the Tories don’t do compromise – they are to welded to their ideology.

          • Coffee Connoisseur 1.3.1.1.1

            And I do believe that some on this site need to realise – the Tories don’t do compromise – they are to welded to their ideology.

            Unfortunately so are the political left.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    I’d be interested to see how realistic this bill actually is.

    Here’s something I wrote when this was discussed back in November:
    “Although it seems like a pretty hard thing to fight, since employers can specify the number of hours in a contract.

    What if you only need to work 4 hours a week? What if it’s only 2 hours? What about 1? How do you set a minimum?

    If you say “you can’t have 0-hour contracts” and leave it at that, then we’ll just end up with 1-hour contracts instead, which from the point of the employee is pretty much just as bad.

    I guess the approach would be “where someone regularly works 50% or more than the hours they have written into their contract, then the regularly worked hours become their new contracted hours”. Aside from the obvious question of “how often is ‘regularly’”, this still falls into the trap of what happens if the business needs genuinely change and you go from working 30 hours a week regularly to 20 hours regularly (and your contract specified 20 originally), do you have any grounds for complaint that your hours have been cut?”

    alwyn came up with a pretty interesting sounding approach, here: http://thestandard.org.nz/labour-and-the-unions/#comment-927819

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Having just read the bill at the scoop link, it is as simple as saying you must specify the number of hours of work expected to fulfill the role.

      I don’t think this achieves anything, since the contract can just say “1 hour + additional hours as required” or “0 hours + additional hours as required”.

      • Clashman 2.1.1

        You really don’t know how this works do you?
        The job is advertised with no hours mentioned.
        At the interview vague references of how many hours you MAY get are bandied about, or they say we will start with 10 hours (for example) and increase it up to 30-35 (its never 40) a week.
        In my experience (two teenage children doing these types of jobs) the “promises” never materialise.
        Whenever my son asks for time off or if he can work Wednesday instead of Thursday because he has a dental appointment on Thursday (for example) his hours are reduced significantly the following week. The big franchises are particularly bad.
        The major issue for me is if you have a 20hr a week job you cant go and look for any other work because you are permanently on call.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1

          There must be a way to contact – and connect – these workers through social media.

          • Colonial Rawshark 2.1.1.1.1

            The franchises will be monitoring those social media sites very carefully. Any worker which appears on those sites will be fucked over.

            • Clashman 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Yep, any sign of causing issues/organising and you have your hours slashed.

            • Skinny 2.1.1.1.1.2

              Your bang on there CV .

              Represented an employee just before Xmas that posted something on facebook about ‘flexible hours’ 2 days later she got suspended. Anyway her manager was a fuckhead in a hurry and I knocked him over on process. Still the same I advise no work colleagues, especially bosses as FB friends.

            • framu 2.1.1.1.1.3

              cant remember the title – but read a book ages ago that had one story about a new McDonalds in the states

              It was one of the only McDs to ever have a self unionised workforce

              McDs responded by demolishing the entire brand new building – then building a new one across the road in order to get rid of the staff without any legal blow back

        • Lanthanide 2.1.1.2

          I know how it works quite well.

          I’m on a salary. My employment contract says I am to work 40 hours a week, plus additional hours as required.

          Iain Lees-Galloway’s bill merely says that the contract must include the numbers of hours to be worked in it. It doesn’t put a minimum, nor does it outlaw any such clause as “additional hours as required”.

          As such, I don’t see why there’s any reason, should this bill be passed, that your son would not instead be offered a contract that specified 0 hours a week + additional hours as required, or possibly 1 hour a week + additional hours as required.

          In short, your son would be in exactly the same position as he is now. Hence why I am saying this sort of thing seems very difficult to legislate for, and that it doesn’t look like Iain’s bill will really achieve anything, in its current form.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.2.1

            Difficult to legislate for: handwringing much?

            How about legislation that binds employers to exactly the same workplace conditions as their employees? I’ll shovel your nuclear waste if you hold the spade sort of thing.

            • Lanthanide 2.1.1.2.1.1

              If you see the link to alwyn’s comment I gave, you’ll see a potentially workable solution.

              • Clashman

                Alwyns idea is interesting but, most zero hour contract workers I have spoken too want the extra hours when available. This seems to disincentivise the employer from doing this somewhat.

                A big issue is being permanantly on call coupled with the irregular days and hours from week to week.
                Alot of people would be happy to have 2 x 20hr a week jobs but this is virtually impossible in this situation.
                This is a deliberate move on the part of the employers that do this. They leave it as late in the week as possible to put up next weeks schedule or only put the first couple of days of the week up, presumably just to fuck with the employees.
                Mcdonalds, for example, is quite capable of giving people regular hours every week but they just wont do it.

                • Lanthanide

                  My followup suggestion allows for an additional 50% hours at no cost to the employer.

                  That means in order for the employer to recognise flexibility, they have to offer the employee a sizeable base number of hours.

                • greywarshark

                  Legislate for definite hours, that must be met and within normal working hours. Normal hours will be defined. Weekend work and anti-social hours will be defined and paid at time and a quarter. We have to go back to respect between employer and employee. Rosters to be provided for one week at a time, and one week ahead of start.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    We have to go back to respect between employer and employee.

                    Considering that such has never existed we can’t go back to it.

                    • greywarshark

                      Draco T Bastard
                      Yeah yeah. Do you like to be a Jeremiah and wipe ideas as stupid? Do you hope everything will collapse so you can be proved right?

                      There used to be respect for the laws that governed employment and employees had recourse against employers that didn’t keep to them. That way you get respect, when the country’s laws are passed, observed and back up the aggrieved. So don’t dump your negativity on me.

                      There is something that could be done. It would require a government that had a spine and cared about living standards being reasonable and opportunities to improve them being available, for certain and sure, not airy-fairy with RW fairy tales about jam in the future.

                      So let’s support Andrew Little as he is showing backbone, get him drinking lots of milk for the calcium, and downgrade brews that never helped the workers advance their situation. In fact the whole Labour movement could vow not to drink any beer till the next election, to ensure they keep their eye on that, rather than whiling away their time on endless talk about the bad government and what the country would achieve if they were running it.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      There used to be respect for the laws that governed employment and employees had recourse against employers that didn’t keep to them.

                      No there wasn’t. It was that disrespect for those laws that has led to them being ignored, undermined and repealed by successive governments over the last thirty years.

                    • Coffee Connoisseur

                      It exists in my business.

                  • alwyn

                    “Legislate for definite hours, that must be met and within normal working hours. Normal hours will be defined. Weekend work and anti-social hours will be defined and paid at time and a quarter”.

                    I don’t think that we are ever going back to this. The 1950’s, when this sort of thing existed, have gone for ever. Even the idea that shopping, for example, could be done during the “normal working hours” can’t work if women routinely work themselves and aren’t able to shop at that time.
                    I don’t know about you but the busiest times at my supermarket seem to be late Saturday morning and late Sunday afternoon. There is no-one there except the old retired people like me on a weekday morning.
                    There are also people who don’t want to work more than, say, 15 hours a week. Older school children working after school at a supermarket would be in that category. Legislation would be difficult to write that catered for everybody.
                    The idea I suggested was intended to have the effect of making employer’s offer contracts for the number of hours they really wanted people to work, by making it too expensive to offer a guaranteed zero hours but call people in anyway. It would also be fairly easy to enforce as the contract would have to exist and the hours worked recorded.
                    Sure it was just a skeleton of an idea, and would need tidying up,but I think it would have a reasonable prospect of working.

                    • greywarshark

                      @ alwyn
                      Good attempt to think up a new idea for the rutted minds of business and government. Work that was available to people who need it, when they need it. What I was suggesting was definite legislation to set this up for all business and people, and that would ensure that everyone had the same level playing field. And there would be rosters, advised well in advance. There would be call out fees for people who were on the books for emergencies etc. There would be time and a quarter around main working hours.

                      It is not beyond us to have legal controls. We make our society, and we can repair it, all that is required is the will and explanations to people about how it would affect them. And in my world there would only be shops open on Sunday afternoons in tourist towns.
                      And certain other places where there were few shopping facilities, where the shops were the centre of the community.

          • Clashman 2.1.1.2.2

            Yes I have now had a look at the proposal, yiur right its a waste of time as far as making any meaningful change.

          • te reo putake 2.1.1.2.3

            “It doesn’t put a minimum, nor does it outlaw any such clause as “additional hours as required”.”

            I suspect it doesn’t have to be specific, lanth. The good faith principles that guide the Act would make it difficult to just put zero, or 1hour plus whenever we need you, or similarly obviously bogus constructions. The minimum number of hours would have to be meaningful even if geared to the low side.

            Mind you that still requires people to actually take cases, so workers should the union if there is one.

            • Lanthanide 2.1.1.2.3.1

              Ok, so where’s your cut-off point?

              1 hour + however many hours required?
              2 hours? 3? 4? 5?

              How about 6 hours + however many hours required?

              What about 12?

              What about 18?

              Where you going to draw the line?

              • It would depend on the business and the number of hours that reasonably need to be worked. That’s what I meant by ‘meaningful’. To give an example, a business that had x amount of hours worked each week, could have that figure divided by the number of employees which would give a rough average each employee could reasonably expect.

                Tightly managed businesses such as macca’s would have a hard time hiding the fact that their employees on average work, say, 15 hours a week. Or it may be 20, 25 etc. Now that figure might get discounted (‘we only offer the newbies 10 hrs a week to test ’em out’) but that’s still an improvement on zero.

                • Lanthanide

                  “To give an example, a business that had x amount of hours worked each week, could have that figure divided by the number of employees which would give a rough average each employee could reasonably expect.”

                  Pretty easy to hire 60 workers, when you truly only need 20, just to drive the average number of hours down.

                  • Not really, lanth. It would be incredibly time consuming just doing the hiring process. Plus you’d have to schedule work for 60 people when you really need just twenty. The manager would spend most of his work week just getting the rosters right!

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    The real problem is not so much casual labour is the zero hours which require employees to be on call at most times. They could be 2 hours for the day or none and they dont know till that day starts

    • Clashman 3.1

      Or they get a phonecall saying get here NOW!

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      One of the biggest problems with being on call is that you can get called in, do an hours work and then get told to go home. Unless the employees hourly income is greater than about $50/hour that hours work would have cost the employee a lot of money. Essentially, casual and zero-hour contracts need to have a call out fee and/or minimum hours of work for each call out.

      That would be another way to kill zero hours contracts.

  4. Colonial Rawshark 4

    Labour is utterly small target when it comes to labour market reform. Give labour more negotiating and organising power, period.

    Don’t fuck around with trying to prevent one specific type of labour market abuse, where your prevention is very likely and easily to be circumvented from day 1.

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      +1

    • Paul 4.2

      Labour’s policies are so weak and insipid.
      Syriza…

      • Colonial Rawshark 4.2.1

        It’s so very cautiously Left of National.

        Syriza on the other hand – shit they’ve done well (so far). Still, their entire cabinet should refrain from boarding the same plane together…esp when they start to really rile up the powers that be.

    • I think the cynicism’s unwarranted, CV. Labour had a pretty darn comprehensive industrial relations policy last election and this is simply one member’s bill which could affect an important, winnable change for Kiwi workers.

      Of course if Iain Lees-Galloway stopped there and said “right, my job’s done” you’d have a point, but since we are, tragically, stuck with John Key as PM for three years, I’m welcoming any wins we can get (and we’re getting plenty.)

      • Sacha 4.3.1

        “since we are, tragically, stuck with John Key as PM for three years” – thanks to one party’s inability to do their job for six years, let’s be clear.

        • Sure, but now that that party has a much better leader (yes I’m biased) and is taking great steps towards actually being a functional Opposition. So I’m in favour of acknowleding the crap situation we’re in and finding ways to make progress regardless.

  5. vto 5

    employers who use zero-hour contracts can get f%$*ed.

    if there is a list of these such people and the products and services they sell then lets see it so boycotts and other appropriate action can be taken against them

  6. RedBaronCV 6

    We must have some absolutely hopeless business owners if they can’t specify the actual hours that they expect people to be at work. If they are that bad then we need to discourage them before they run up tax and supplier debts.

    So contracts specify the number of hours, the days and the start and finish time. Hours over and above that attract time and a half. Why should there not be a penalty for being disorganised.

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      But that means that the boss can’t call you in if someone else is sick for the day.

      You might actually be personally willing to work for your normal pay on a day when someone else calls in sick, but under what you’ve proposed, the boss may not call you in because they don’t want to pay time and a half. If that happens, then the people working on the day have to go short-staffed.

      You could say “well that tough for the boss then” – but actually it is the workers who end up missing out.

      • Molly 6.1.1

        The cost of covering for sickness at time and a half should be factored into the cost for wages regardless.

        It is not up to the workers to subsidise the business by being willing to work for normal pay.

        Very few instances of workers (especially lower waged) taking more than the contracted sickness leave, without pay. The situation of an employer having to pay extra for cover would likely be covered by those who don’t use their allowed sick leave each year.

      • RedBaronCV 6.1.2

        and people are probably even more willing to work at time and a half. Good management is about having your people resources properly deployed which is obviously way beyond the current generation of managers.

    • Sacha 6.2

      NZ does have some crap employers. If they can’t cope with scheduling their employees, they do not deserve to be in business.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      The study that came out a few years ago showed that NZ employers and managers are about the worst in the world. This has probably come about from thirty years of governments catering to what these whingers want.

  7. Descendant Of Sssmith 7

    Minimum of 10 hours per week no if’s no buts.

    Fuck if you you can’t offer a job of at least 10 hours per week you shouldn’t be running a business.

    10 hours per week covers the two hours per day to cover half a staff members lunch hour for half the staff to go to lunch.

    And yeah I know many people only get half an hour for lunch but everyone should get an hour. You can do stuff all in half an hour.

    There’s no excuse for the corporate to have less than 20 hours really. It’s just to have a pool of desperate people who will work at the drop of a hat.

    • Lanthanide 7.1

      10 hours is quite a little, but honestly, there are some people who really do only want 4-5 hours work. So you’re cutting those people out of the job market by instituting that minimum.

      How do you handle part-time paper routes, for example, that take 2 hours a week?

      People working multiple jobs (for whatever reason at all) might want limited hours at a particular job, but still find that job worth doing.

      Students are a particular group that often want very restricted hours, either to fit around study, or to comply with maximum income requirements re: student allowance and/or student loan payments.

  8. Iain Lees-Galloway in full flight today: http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/35559

    He recalled an old NACTUM lie — I haven’t seen this particular variant on BLiP’s list, here is the Hansard:

    I remember that when National came to office its big goal for workers was to close the wage gap with Australia. When National came to office the average wage gap with Australia was $121.76 a week; today it is $170.28 a week. National has demonstrably failed on one of the key tasks it set itself, and it has broken a promise to ordinary workers.

  9. Colonial Rawshark 9

    If you want a person to be “on call” on any given day, they must be paid a minimum of 2 hours for that day.

    Sorted.

    • These employers should pay $5+ per hour to keep someone on call 24/7
      ($10+ on weekends)

      How can anyone be expected to be available with no guaranteed work, and no recompense for wasted time?

      • Colonial Rawshark 9.1.1

        Exactly. Something along these lines is far more powerful than what is being currently proposed because it makes employers weigh up what they are going to do and it gives direct benefits to the workers.

    • Lanthanide 9.2

      That would work. The contract must specify the days on which the employee is ‘on call’.

      I’m in favour of it being 2 hours of the relevant wage, rather than some artificial low figure.

      When someone is called up for work on that day, the 2 hours pay forms part of the wage for that day offset against hours actually worked.

      If a worker on such a contract is contacted and asked to work on a day that is not defined in their contract as being ‘on call’, they are free to decline the work with no negative consequences. There’s potential to game that one, so you could make it ‘paid time and a half’ so the employer really has to want it.

      This would make casual contracts much more in favour, but the key difference with them is that the worker is free to decline work, so employers can’t rely on it for their core workers.

      • alwyn 9.2.1

        Databank, which used to do all the computer processing for the trading banks in New Zealand, used to have something like this.
        I understand that people on call were paid (I think) 14% of their hourly rate of pay for each hour they were on call. That was defined as 14 hours on a normal working day and 24 hours for a day at the weekend. If you were on call for a week this payment would increase your weekly pay by about 40%.
        I understand it worked quite well, as it was enough to get people who really wanted the money to volunteer in adequate numbers.
        If they were actually called in I believe they were paid overtime for the actual hours worked as well as the on-call allowance.
        NB. This is based on what I was told by people who worked there so it may not be fully accurate.

        • That’s the way it works for a lot of 24-hour service contracts in IT. But low skilled labourers don’t have the same power and are treated like replaceable parts.

  10. adam 10

    Yeah bugger it – why stress, lets go back to putting people into cages and let employers pick who they want to employ for the day.

    Or how about a work force that shuts up, and does what it’s told for bugger all pay.

    But, no lets go with labours plan of sweet bugger all, or let me frame that another way – a gutless little tinker – in the face of rising costs, pretty shit employers, and very few standards to protect workers in the workplace.

    Let me say again and SAY it LOUD. The labour party is the weight around the neck of working people in this country. The labour party are the liberal suckers, who get mildly squeamish, but ultimately do what the bosses want.

    If this is policy to make workers lives better – then Ian – you need to do some real work, rather than sit on you fart detonator in parliament.

    • Colonial Rawshark 10.1

      “a gutless little tinker” – great quote and I might nick it off you for future use…

      • alwyn 10.1.1

        Ah ha.
        Are you related to Oscar Wilde?
        This sounds rather like his comment to Whistler about a witticism Whistler had made.

        “Wilde, who was present, approved Mr. Whistler’s brightness, and wondered why he had not thought of the witticism himself. ‘You will,’ promptly replied Whistler, ‘you will.’ This lightning comment on Mr. Wilde’s wonderful ability to think of other people’s bright things and to repeat them as his own had, you may imagine, an immediate and most discomforting effect on Mr. Wilde.”

  11. Whateva next? 11

    Well established in UK now, daresay zero contracts will be business as usual in no time as long as people keep voting for team keys

  12. Whateva next? 12

    And the latest Tory trick is to stop Union subs coming out of pay at source, saying it’s a waste of taxpayers money to administrate….other things such as social club fees are still ok though. Setting up direct debits is something many don’t quite get around to, and so inevitably they won’t realise what they have lost until it’s gone.

    • Rosie 12.1

      Previously as a union member, I paid my subs directly to the union from my account.

      One advantage of this is the element of surprise when conflict arises. Suddenly the employer can find themselves in a meeting with yourself and your union rep. I’ve been able to handle most issues on my own but when things start heading into personal grievance territory you need help.

      Paying subs directly is useful in a work situation we’re you’re the only one on site in the union and there is no collective agreement. You’re still on the back foot. It’s different if you and your work mates are all members and you have a fair and reasonable employer, a good collective and the employer has a good relationship with the union.

  13. Rosie 13

    Certainty at work bill. I like it, I like the title of the bill. It acknowledges that we DO have uncertainty in our workplaces with zero hour contracts being the source of that.

    We are heading further and further down that road of the worker as a mere serf, beholden to the whims of their employer, with ever diminishing power and respect. Hopefully Iain Lees Galloway’s bill will go a way to try and redress that unfairness.

    I got a shock at my last job, where for the first time in my life I had to wrangle really hard to get guaranteed hours/days. It took weeks to sort it and even then I was “on call” outside of those hours, It was a demeaning experience and also very annoying.

    Other women at work who were apprehensive about negotiating with the boss fared even worse, and worked all number of random hours and days. Apart from the manager you never really knew who you would be working with, it was just whoever was picked to turn up for a shift that day.

    Onya Iain. Good luck with your bill!

  14. Murray Rawshark 14

    If you’re required to be on call, you should be paid for the hours involved. It’s quite simple. I’d accept a lesser rate, maybe 60% of the living wage, for on call hours, but zero hour contracts are just theft of a worker’s life. Being required to pay would see the masters of the universe business people tidy up their planning abilities right smart.

  15. Steve 15

    I new these existed – but hadn’t realised how widely the zero hour contracts are used till I saw TV3’s item, then found this site.
    I and my family have immediately banned the companies listed here.
    Would be nice to be able a more concise and up to date list though.

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