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To think this is a dodgy zero hour contract

(15 Posts)
Worker24601 Sat 04-Feb-17 09:29:06

I've recently come across this contract for care workers which to me seems unlawful. I might be wrong about that, but at the very least it's pretty unscrupulous.

As it's a zero hour contract the employer is not obliged to offer a minimum (or maximum) number of hours. However, employees ARE obliged to work whenever they are told to. ACAS states that zero hour workers are not obliged to accept work, but this company states it's a condition of employment. Elsewhere the government suggests that it should be made clear to zero hour workers that they do not have to accept work.

In another part of the document it is stated that pay is determined by the number of minutes workers are "logged in to client's homes" and not for time travelling in between. Again, ACAS seems to suggest this is unlawful.

The cherry on the cake for me is their recruitment poster which boasts "flexible hours", which I suppose is true from the employer's POV, just not for workers.

Jellybean85 Sat 04-Feb-17 09:37:31

Actually I thought this was quite common.
The crucial phrase is agreed hours of availability.
I have a couple of friends working this way. They've put down 9:30 - 4. So they have to work anything within that period and have the option to work over and above.
My working hours are 8 - 4 so I wouldn't make plans during that time. Appreciate it isn't ideal for everyone but if you limit your hours of availability you can make it work flexibly for you.
Of course if you need a full time wage every month I can see it
Would be very tough.

Rowgtfc72 Sat 04-Feb-17 09:51:59

I'm on a zero hour contract. I've chosen to work 6am to 2pm. My contract suggests i am available for all shifts within a 24hr period. I have been asked to work other shifts and weekends. I have declined. So far it hasnt worked against me as between those hours I have reliably turned up and have done for the past three and a half years.
Zero hours contracts are supposed to work both ways.

Worker24601 Sat 04-Feb-17 09:56:05

Yes I imagine the employer would make that argument, however I would think that it's reasonable to make a distinction between the hours you are generally available for offers of work and an agreement to accept any hours within that period. It certainly seems iffy to take availability as a tacit agreement to accept all work and to make this a contractual obligation. Many people will say they are available 7am-7pm Monday to Sunday but would not accept 12 hour shifts 7 days a week. I'm also struggling to see any justification of the phrase "flexible hours" if staff cannot reject any hours. It's a completely one sided contract.

Worker24601 Sat 04-Feb-17 09:57:57

My above reply was to Jellybean

Agreed row, they are supposed to work both ways, and everything I've come across online suggests staff should not be forced to work every hour offered.

Aroseforemily Sat 04-Feb-17 10:27:40

That looks very much like my old contract. Carers had to be available from 7am to 10pm for 12 days out of 14, every other weekend off.
No pay for travel time, it was normal to have 5 miles between calls with no travel time allowed.
I left after I had a breakdown.
You could refuse hours 2 weeks in advance, but you'd be 'punished' by having minimal hours the following weeks.

mylittlephoney Mon 06-Feb-17 09:58:03

This shit is happening to me right now. They're putting this awful system in place soon and I'm so stressed out about it. We are out and about in traffic with no travelling time and expected to be on time stay for the whole alloted time which is next to impossible. Unless i can learn to teleport im fucked.
The company I work for i know will log our calls to the second and. Not pay us fairly. I will lose money and my hours will be long and I will spend the whole shift being late for the next call which impacts the clients. Especially when medicines are needed to be administerd on time ect.
It's time to get rid of zero hours contract and Pay people fairly.

TuckersBadLuck Mon 06-Feb-17 10:20:39

To me it's not the 'zero hours' nature of these contracts which is the real problem, it's not being paid for all your hours of work. If you arrive at your first call at 8am and your last call finishes as 5pm, with no time to go home because of the timings of calls and/or the distance from home, then you've been out 'at work' for 9 hours (or arguably 8ish hours if you manage a proper break). The fact that you've been sat twiddling your thumbs in a layby for 90 minutes in the afternoon and 45 minutes in the morning is generally pretty irrelevant to you if you can't actually do anything because you're waiting to go to the next call.

The legal position on payment for travelling time between appointments is that it counts towards your working time for national minimum wage (now National Living Wage) purposes. So if you're on NLW the travelling time should be fully paid for. If you're on more than NLW then your pay for the day should be at least the aggregate of your 'working' and 'travelling' time, multiplied by NLW.

RoseGibbs Thu 09-Feb-17 15:48:53

would any one be interested in talking to me about their experience of zero hour contracts/ maternity leave /childcare support. There was an exhibition made in 1979 called Who's Holding the Baby? And I want to do an updated version of it to highlight the struggles women face particularly when they have precarious work situations. I want to highlight that care workers need to be valued more.

mumsies9 Thu 09-Mar-17 15:11:34

I will

PausingFlatly Thu 09-Mar-17 15:15:03

Please take a look at this:
Acas Zero Hours Myth Busting

I'm can't concentrate today, but IIUC it's not legal for you not to be paid travel time. There are other details in that link about availability.

PausingFlatly Thu 09-Mar-17 15:16:21

Research by Unison, but may be good background: www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2013/11/On-line-Catalogue220152.pdf

PausingFlatly Thu 09-Mar-17 15:18:52

Don't know if this 2016 court case is resolved yet: Care workers sue council contractor in minimum wage battle.

Actual gov.uk website on care workers and minimum wage: www.gov.uk/minimum-wage-different-types-work/overview

PausingFlatly Thu 09-Mar-17 15:22:43

I don't know if they can give any practical help, but the Resolution Foundation would probably be interested to see evidence that companies are still trying this on. They've done a lot of work in this area: www.resolutionfoundation.org/media/press-releases/zero-hours-contract-workers-face-a-precarious-pay-penalty-of-1000-a-year/

RoseGibbs, you may them useful too.

PausingFlatly Thu 09-Mar-17 15:24:52

Sorry, on re-reading I realise the OP has already covered some of this.

But I hope the links are of use or interest to others.

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