Zero-hours contracts are bad for business

It appears that a growing number of businesses are being attracted to using zero-hours contracts.

But like the ancient Greek sailors hypnotised by the bewitching song of the mythological Sirens, they may find themselves sailing into troubled waters.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, about a million people are potentially on these contracts – that’s four times the estimate calculated by the Office of National Statistics.

So it appears we have a trend that appears to be gaining worrying momentum. 

I can see why some business owners are attracted to them, but I am not one of them. They can have a detrimental effect on businesses, and employers need to beware of the dangers to their companies.

They favour big corporations who like to have an exclusive pot of labour they can dip into, but definitely not the workers who are effectively sitting on the subs’ bench waiting, unpaid, to be called on to the field of play.

But, to keep the sporting analogy going, how can you expect that employee to give the proverbial 110 per cent for their employer when they’re brought into play?

I’ve always been of the opinion that a contract is a two-way agreement where both parties get something out of the deal. To me, zero hours contracts are very one-sided, which in no way constitutes a contract. 

Of course, employees get their wages (when they actually do work), but employers need something in return, in addition to the actual duties their hired to perform, and that’s commitment and dedication to the business.

How can you expect an employee to stick by the business, through thick and thin, if no commitment is shown to them?

These companies, under the guise of offering flexible working, expect zero-hour workers to be grateful that they have job in the first place and will come running full of enthusiasm like a labrador the moment their employer clicks their fingers. I’m afraid that’s just a fantasy.

What makes a successful company is the level employees engage with the business and how they feel part of an effective team. It’s very hard to do that when employees are on zero-hour contracts.

An insecure workforce is an ineffective workforce. 

It’s good to hear the Government are concerned and the Business Secretary Vince Cable is now undertaking a review into use of the contracts. 

This review needs to not only look into the scale of the issue, but the effect these contracts have on employees and the reduced benefit they offer to employers. 

Perhaps then companies will look twice at what appears to be an attractive proposition, which may, in fact, lead to their business crashing on the rocks in the future.

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