Government must change perception of zero hour contracts says employment lawyer

The Government must work to change the negative perception of zero hours contracts by helping employers understand how to use them fairly if businesses are to achieve a level of workforce flexibility that will be important during the economic recovery from the pandemic, an employment law specialist has said.

Charlotte Geesin is head of employment law at Cleckheaton-based Howarths.

Charlotte Geesin, head of employment law at Cleckheaton-based Howarths, believes zero hours contracts have historically attracted “bad press”, but when used fairly, offer “a credible option that can help provide important levels of flexibility for employers and workers alike as industry reopens and we begin to recover the economy post-pandemic”.

Ms Geesin said: “Sectors including hospitality and events, care, the arts, and sport and leisure are likely to rely heavily on zero hours contracts over the next six to twelve months, as they balance getting back on their feet with an understandable hesitance to invest in permanent employees at such an uncertain time.

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“There have been stories in the news recently involving extreme examples where zero hours contracts have been abused by big businesses. However, they remain a very valid approach for employers to take, providing they understand how to use them properly and fairly.”

Ms Geesin explained that, over the past few years, several governments have committed to putting in place measures to regulate zero hours contracts and address loopholes which give rise to their misuse.

“The most recent commitments were made in and around The Good Work Plan, which was published in December 2018 and sought to address issues of one-sided flexibility and uncertainty around working hours and pay”, Ms Geesin said.She added that the government “must turn its attention back to the implementation and development of The Good Work Plan”.

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