Zero hours contracts

Back to all Motions

2014 Higher Education Service Group Conference
7 November 2013

Conference notes that as part of the general attack on staff terms and conditions that has accompanied the intensification of privatisation and cuts to funding across the public sector, employers including universities have increasingly been turning to zero hours contracts. Under these contracts, an individual typically undertakes to be available for work but the employer does not undertake to provide any work and only pays for the hours worked.

The Office of National Statistics estimated in the final quarter of 2012 that the number of employees on zero hours contracts surged to 200,000. However, information uncovered subsequently now suggests that this is a major under-estimate, with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) going so far as to suggest that the true number has hit one million.

Conference instructs the Higher Education Service Group Executive to provide advice to branches on the following:-

1)The damaging effect of zero hours contracts on the employer’s ability to attract and retain high quality staff;

2)The consequent reduction in continuity and quality of services provided due to zero hours contracts;

3)The danger of inadequate staffing levels if workers on zero hours contracts are unable to respond to the call to come into work;

4)The loss of training and skills development that tends to accompany such contracts, leading to a further decline in the quality of service delivered;

5)The increased likelihood of deterring whistle-blowing on poor organisational practice (including health and safety issues), due to workers’ fears that they will be victimised through cuts in hours offered due to being on zero hours contracts.

6)That zero hours contracts are not compatible with developing a professional workforce delivering quality services.