Today, Zero Hours Justice ran an full-page advert in The Guardian, calling on all employers to furlough zero hours contract staff if they are unable to offer work.
The advert was a response to the number of enquiries we have received from zero hours contract workers, who found themselves without work and without pay, because the coronavirus lockdown meant employers were unable to offer certain services.
The government guidance on its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is clear: employees with variable payment, including zero hours staff, are eligible to be furloughed. We completely understand that some private sector employers may be put in financial difficulty, because they still have to find the money to pay 80% of staff wages and then claim it back.
Nevertheless, at least employers can claim it back - the only option for zero hours contract staff not receiving furlough pay is to claim Universal Credit, but why should they have to resort to this?
But we also find it completely unacceptable that some public sector employers, including local authorities and NHS trusts, are neither offering work to zero hours contract staff nor furloughing them. We believe that this is due to the government guidance, which does not prevent public sector employers from using the Job Retention Scheme but clearly seeks to discourage them from doing so.
You can download a copy of our advert in The Guardian below:
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Images can be downloaded from here. Image of Julian Richer should be credited to Gerardo Jaconelli.