Shift away from zero-hours contracts essential to protect good name of recruitment sector
Recently, global protests in at least 33 countries and 80 cities across 6 continents have been spearheaded by fast food, hotel and tourism workers. Key issues include employment rights, minimum wage and zero-hours contracts. Last month’s elections all over Europe have caused growing concern as there seems to have been a democratic shift to the far right. Economic migration and zero-hours contracts are widely cited as contributory factors.
Woodward is a seasoned observer and analyst of the recruitment sector who built his business in the UK before taking it global. Over some 15 years he has established partnerships that have enabled him to gain insight from within some of the world's leading recruitment businesses.
Woodward said: “When it comes to zero-hours contracts, good data is hard to come by. At one point in the UK the ONS (Office of National Statistics) said 583,000 were contracted like this. At the same time CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) said it was 1,000,000, while the union Unite put the figure at up to 5.5 million. When there's so much disagreement over basic facts it's not surprising that there is a lot of unhelpful speculation.
“One thing most agree on is as the recession progressed, the use of zero-hours contracts increased. One view is these contracts have been vital, allowing businesses to cope with fluctuating peaks and troughs in demand. However, an increasingly hostile discussion has developed about how zero-hours contracts drive job insecurity and erode employment rights. This is harming the recruitment industry.”
The growing wealth gap between those near the top of society and ordinary people has become one of the leading social issues of today. It is not just that the wages of ordinary workers have failed to keep in step. As the cost of living increased, many have seen their earning capacity pushed down.
Woodward commented, “It is widely believed that to maintain workforce flexibility during the tough times, zero-hours contracts were a necessity. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to make the case for their continued use as the recovery takes hold and gathers momentum. It is clear those that have seen some of the hardest times are not willing to accept a permanent shift that sees their pay and conditions governed by zero-hours contracts.”
Many hold the view that the democratic shift to the far right that we are seeing in parts of Europe is dangerous to the well-being of society. To avoid endangering the relative stability the developed world has enjoyed for many decades, the shift to the right needs to be arrested and centre ground politics reinforced. As economic recovery accelerates it is an imperative for normalised employment contracts to become re-established and for ordinary workers to share in rising prosperity.
Woodward commented, “The vast majority of recruitment agencies and employers behave responsibly towards workers, pay good rates and observe regulatory codes and employment rights. If we want to protect the good name and reputation of recruitment we need to prevent zero-hours contracts reflecting badly on the sector. Perhaps the best way to do that is to shift away from them.”