Julian Richer has received support from opposition Members of Parliament for his campaign to end unilaterally-imposed zero hours contracts.
An Early Day Motion commending Richer for launching Zero Hours Justice was passed with support of 20 MPs, including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
In particular, the motion backs the Zero Hours Justice campaign for
The full wording of the Early Day Motion and a list of its sponsors and supporters is available on the Parliament website.
By James Johnson-Flint
Some may suggest that the battle for fairness when it comes to contracted hours and the way people are precariously employed will go on forever in the UK. But Ireland, with its similar legal system, has hopefully proved rogue employers in the UK wrong and shown the way forward for British politicians.
On Christmas Day 2018, Ireland's President Higgins signed The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 into law, banning zero hour contracts and giving workers in casual and precarious jobs improved security around their working hours. It is one of the most important pieces of employment law in a generation and is the result of years of campaigning by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and others
When will the UK see sense and do the same?
Below are the headlines in Ireland's legislation:
Zero hours contracts are banned in most circumstances
It had become practice for some employers to employ workers without guaranteeing them a set number of working hours. Under the Act, employers will no longer be able to use such zero hour contracts except in very limited circumstances, such as to provide cover in emergency situations or to cover short-term absences.
Workers are entitled to a minimum payment if employers fail to provide them with work
Workers have the right to compensation from their employer if they turn up for work but are sent home without work. The minimum payment workers are entitled to is 3 hours pay at the minimum wage rate, or 3 hours at the Joint Labour Committees rate if they work in a sector where an Employment Regulation Order is in force, such as security or contract cleaning.
Workers are entitled to be guaranteed hours of work that reflect their normal working week
Under the Act, workers have the right to be placed on a weekly band of hours that accurately reflect their normal working hours. For example, if their contract of employment guarantees them 10 hours per week but for the last 12-month period they have worked an average 25 hours per week, they are entitled to be placed on a band of hours that guarantees them a minimum of 21 hours per week.
Workers are entitled to a written statement of their terms of employment within the first 5 days
The Act legally requires employers to provide workers with a written statement of their main conditions of employment within the first 5 days of being hired. The statement must include details of workers’ daily and weekly working hours, rate of pay and how pay is calculated.
By James Johnson-Flint
A campaign led by a coalition of concerned citizens working together with representatives from the TUC, and responsible employers has been launched today with the aim of ending zero hours contracts.
The Zero Hours Justice campaign is led by Ian Hodson, President, who has huge experience of workers’ rights issues. Ian has joined campaign founder and funder, Julian Richer (entrepreneur, author of "The Ethical Capitalist" and avid campaigner for responsible capitalism) and employment law specialists, Thompsons Solicitors, with the backing of the TUC, to deliver a sustained campaign to ensure those suffering at the mercy of zero hours contracts have a voice and to challenge the status quo.
Sadly, for those affected by the scourge of zero hours contracts, the UK is one of a small minority, we believe, of just 6 EU countries - out of a total of 28 - that still use zero hours contracts. In the UK, they are widely enforced, affecting as many as 1 million workers (plus their families) on a daily basis, causing stress and misery to the great majority of recipients.
Ian Hodson commented, “Those on zero hours contracts are amongst the most vulnerable in our society. Many of them feel powerless to complain, even if they suffer serious problems at work like bullying and sexual harassment. The response from managers can be threats to cut their hours of work. But they simply can’t afford to lose any pay, so what can they do? We have cases where managers text people to come straight in. But when they arrive, they find the same text was sent to several workers and only one is needed. And they don’t get their travel costs back, so it’s like being on negative pay. Lots of landlords won’t take you if you are on a zero hours contract. And of course, you can’t get a mortgage. So, we have members who have been forced to live in places that are unfit for habitation and dangerous to their health. Nobody should have to live like that in 21st Century Britain. Every job should give people the basic security they need to live a decent life.”
Julian Richer commented, “This is an apolitical campaign for those who want a better society. We want our campaign to be a coming together of interested parties to end the awful practice of zero hours contracts. As an employer, I care passionately about my colleagues. I can’t imagine anything more likely to cause misery than not knowing day-to-day whether they will have enough money for food or rent. Maybe such contracts can work for a small minority of workers who have other significant household incomes or for students with wealthy parents, but for the vast majority this evil way of exploiting people at work must be banned – as indeed they are in the great majority of European countries. If we can’t give working people basic security, we should be ashamed.”
James Bloodworth, Author of “Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain”, commented, "I worked in several zero hours contract jobs as part of the research for my book and it was striking to me the level of insecurity zero hours contracts created among workers who were already having to cope with low-pay and brutal employment conditions. Not knowing from week to week how many hours you would be given by your employer added another layer of precarity to jobs that were already in many instances done by people who were struggling financially. Furthermore, Government policy when it comes to the benefits system has made life harder for those on zero hours contracts. Should a worker leave a job of their own volition, they are not entitled to claim jobseekers’ allowance. This leaves many workers trapped in jobs in which they are not being given enough hours each week to make ends meet. This in turn is generating a big increase in in-work poverty and food bank use. Employed on a zero hours contract, a worker may be working as little as five hours a week – yet still he or she may be unable to get another job or leave and claim jobseekers’ allowance while they look for something full time. It's nothing but cruel and I lend my support to Zero Hours Justice to help in any way I can."
The aims of Zero Hours Justice are
By James Johnson-Flint
A Trade Union Congress (TUC) event on Monday 13 January brought together leading figures from unions, business and community organisations to call for new rights for workers to end exploitation through zero hours contracts.
The event was chaired by Daily Mirror journalist Ros Wynne-Jones. Speakers included:
The event discussed how unions, good employers and voluntary sector organisations can campaign together in 2020 to put an end to the injustice of zero hours contracts.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said:
“The government has promised new laws on workers’ rights. But the current proposals for a ‘right to request’ predictable hours will achieve nothing. Ireland has shown the way by banning zero hours contracts. Britain must do the same. This isn’t just about doing the right thing for working people. It’s about supporting good employers too. It’s not fair if bad employers undercut them with business models based on the exploitation of workers.”
Julian Richer, Founder and Managing Director of Richer Sounds, said:
“As an employer, I care passionately about my colleagues. And I can’t imagine anything more likely to cause misery than not knowing day-to-day whether they will have enough money for food or rent. These evil ways of exploiting people at work must be banned – as indeed they are in the great majority of European countries. If we can’t give working people basic security, we should be ashamed.”
Ian Hodson, National President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union (BAFWU) said:
“Our members on zero hours contracts are very vulnerable. Many of them feel powerless to complain, even if they suffer serious problems at work like bullying and sexual harassment. The response from managers can be threats to cut their hours of work. But they simply can’t afford to lose any pay, so what can they do? We have cases where managers text people to come straight in. But when they arrive, they find the same text was sent to several workers and only one is needed. And they don’t get their travel costs back, so it’s like being on negative pay. Lots of landlords won’t take you if you are on a zero hours contract. And of course you can’t get a mortgage. So we have members who have been forced to live in places that are unfit for habitation and dangerous to their health. Nobody should have to live like that in 21st Century Britain. Every job should give people the basic security they need to live a decent life.”
Pravin Jeyaraj, Communications Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images can be downloaded from here. Image of Julian Richer should be credited to Gerardo Jaconelli.