Charities face scrutiny on use of zero-hours contracts

Figures from a CIPD labour market survey conducted in August suggest that more than a million employees are on zero-hours contracts and that 37 per cent of employers in the voluntary sector make use of them — a significantly higher proportion than either the public or private sector. It is therefore likely that charities will be particularly affected by any change to the way these contracts are perceived or regulated. 

Although zero-hours contracts have been around for many years, there is still no official definition. What they all have in common is that the individual has no contractually guaranteed hours. Otherwise the nature of the arrangements vary considerably, particularly on the key issue of whether the worker has to be available to accept any work offered. 

Clearly the more tilted these arrangements are in favour of the employer, the more open they are to criticism as potentially exploitative. Recent case law has also shown that they can expose employers to unexpected risks when the contractual small print does not match the reality of the relationship on the ground…

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