Written by Kimberley Startup | September 17, 2013
More than a million workers in the CIPD are currently contracted to zero working hours per week, according to a recent survey by the CIPD.
With accusations of zero hour employees being treated differently and being paid less than full time workers, it’s no wonder that these contracts have recently come under fire and are currently the hot topic of retail recruitment.
So, what is a zero hour contract exactly?
Zero hour contracts are when no working hours are guaranteed to an employee in writing. Generally, employees are expected to be available as and when an employer needs them, however employees can legally refuse work if it is offered at short notice.
Used most commonly in retail recruitment, zero hour contracts are a base for financial uncertainty. Employees are not guaranteed an income each month which can, understandably, lead to financial implications, stress and anxiety.
However, when used in the right way, zero hour contracts can provide a flexible working solution. With the most common age group on zero hour contracts being 16-24 year olds, they can be a great way of fitting work around studies or raising a young family.
Also, according to the CBI, because of zero hour contracts and other flexible forms of working, there are half a million fewer unemployed people in the UK.
Should you be offering zero hour contracts when recruiting retail staff?
Ideally, no. You should be able to offer employees a minimum number of contracted hours. However, if these contracts are an unavoidable option within your business, here are some tips on how to treat your zero hour employees the right way:
Equality – Treat zero hour employees the same as your full time employees. You might not see them as often but they are an important part of your business. Let them know that they’re valued.
Open communication – Realistically, let staff know if there is likely to be a shortage of hours for them. Equally, make them aware of any other opportunities you have within the business that offer guaranteed hours each week.
Be understanding – Don’t hold it against your zero hour staff if they can’t come into work at short notice. They should not be expected to be at your beck and call.
Zero hour contracts can work well as long as they’re not abused by the employer. With unpredictable and fluctuating staffing requirements, they can be extremely valuable in retail recruitment.
However, employees should be made completely aware of what zero hour contracts entail before signing up to them, as well as any financial implications.
Want to ditch zero hour contracts but struggling to calculate how much you should be paying your retail staff? Download Webrecruit’s free retail salary checker by clicking here.