Some Realities Of The Zero Hour Contract In 2018

Part Time Hours - Stand-By Day - Work Realities

Continuing from the previous section about the Minimum Wage, in this section I will discuss some of the realities of taking a Zero Hour Contract job in England (UK).

A Zero Hour Contract job is really for someone who does not need a job that badly or at least not to survive on as their only job.

The Zero Hour Contract - THE REALITIES

The Zero-Hour Contract was created to fill a gap in the workplace regardless of the minimum wage and pay in general. It emphasis was on hours.

It was meant for people looking for short, part-time, hours to fit in with their limited schedule. People such as students looking for 'pocket money' (perhaps to pay off their student loan) and single mothers looking for a few hours work to pay their bills; as well as for "Foreign" workers living in England in shared accommodation or bedsits, and young British people living in England with their parents, whereby their bills were zero or almost zero.

It was also meant for small businesses looking for people to do just a few hours per day or week because they could not afford or did not need full time workers. That was the plan at least.

As usual, the zero-hour contract idea has since been (ab)used by employers (in small and large companies) as an excuse not to employ full-time workers simply because they find it much cheaper and more efficient to hire zero (restricted/limited) hour workers; who are only needed at peak times.


In reality, this means a company such as a supermarket will only call you into work for a few hours on a given day when they are really busy only (i.e. only at peak time when they need you working on the til). The employee breaking their back lifting heavy items and stacking shelves might get more hours, but on a minimum wage.

I was joking with a supermarket cashier recently that my girlfriend's daughter might need a job in that supermarket in a couple of years time, when she leaves school, which lead to me asking how much the supermarket cashier earned per hour. I was surprised when they said they had been working there for 10 years already and was only getting paid £8.50 per hour. The minimum wage for an 18 year old in 2005 was £4.25 whereas it is now £5.55. A difference of £1.30 per hour in almost 12 years. Need I say more.


Things to consider before signing a zero contract are:

  1. The company does NOT have to give you hours. Hence the name Zero Hour Contract. And you do NOT have to work any hours also. However, if you refuse, the reality is you will be fired. If you do not want to work, for whatever reason(s), you have to call in sick or make another excuse; which is &$%! system.
  2. If you have two days off work for example, one of those days will be classed as a Stand-By day; meaning, you cannot attend a friend's wedding party on that day for example because the company could call you into work within an hours' notice. Obviously you would tell them about the wedding day beforehand, but the point here is that your off day is not really your off day. You cannot plan anything with family or go shopping on that day without fear of being called into work for 1 hour of work only (and I am not exaggerating here. It happens).
  3. Lunch breaks are NOT paid for, so you might be working an eight hour day but only get paid for seven hours.

Many people leave zero hour contract jobs on a weekly or monthly basis due to them finally realising the hours and/or money is not good and that there are better jobs out there. Unfortunately, many people have to start on the work ladder by getting a zero hour contract job first. On the plus side, with many workers leaving, you can get a supervisor job within a year based on the fact you have been there the longest.


With the minimum wage and zero hour contract together, England has become a nation of young(er) workers (slave workers) who are only good for (abused for) their time and energy.


To make matters worse, even if you are lucky enough to get good hours: One sneaky tactic employers do is fire you just before you complete two years with them, so they avoid giving you a permanent contract; after two years.

The really nasty companies do this at Christmas time, even if you have only completed eighteen months with them for example. Those companies normally prefer part-time, agency and/or casual workers - A casual worker is a joke name among casual workers, because they know they are 'Temporary but Permanent' workers.

In other words: They are always at the workplace working long hours but only on a temporary (part-time) basis, on paper, in order for the company to juggle the hours as part-time hours and thereby pay a certain amount of wages each week (i.e. pay 32 hours this week) and carry over the rest (i.e. 18 hours) as a bonus or part of next weeks wages. This is more to do with job description (i.e. being classed as a part-time worker) in relation to the taxman rather than the company actually paying wages and giving hours.