There has been a lot in the news recently around zero hours contracts. These are employment contracts that do not guarantee the worker any hours, and in effect they are freelancers but usually only work for the one employer. This type of contract is commonplace in areas like healthcare, where wages are low and the staff turnover is high. Staff move frequently from one care agency to another, with one of the main barriers being the need for a new CRB check at each new place of work as well as the cost of uniform. Workers can become trapped, because they often leave due to of a lack of available hours, meaning that they don’t have enough money to pay for their CRB check and uniform if they change jobs. (These statements are based on anecdotes from friends and family based in this industry and not on any firm research, though I am sure there is some out there.)
The main argument with these types of contract are that people working them don’t know what they will be earning one week from another. The objection to this type of contract is less about the contract and more about the types of roles that attract these contracts. The wages are often low: one lady on the Today Programme on the 5th August said that she was paid less than the minimum wage if you included travel time between clients. Perhaps there would be no issue if the average earnings were £25k+.
Whatever role you are going into next, think about the downside before accepting it. What if the worst happened – how would you cope? If you could still afford to live and be happy, then great. If not – do you need to renegotiate your contract? Receiving a job offer is an exciting thing, but just because they are offering you something, it doesn’t mean that you have to take it.
If you’d like to discuss a job offer with a member of the Careers and Employability Service, please come to a drop-in session.