Zero Hours Doesn’t Mean Zero Rights

Zero hours doesn’t mean zero rights – that’s the message from Britain’s biggest Trade Union to Cumbrian workers.

With increasing numbers of staff in our care homes, hospitals and social care facing a casualisation of hours after almost a decade of cuts, public service union UNISON are calling on ‘as and when’ workers to get organised.

The latest Office for National Statistics figures show that 69,000 people in the North West Region are on ‘zero hours’ contracts. The figure for the whole of the UK is 896,000.

Anyone employed on a zero hours contract has the same employment rights as a regular employee, including entitlement to annual leave, the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage, pay for work-related travel and protection from an exclusivity cause, where you can only work for one employer.  Breaks in a workers’ contract do, however, affect rights that are accrued over time.

Zero-hours contracts offer one-way flexibility for the employer. Workers regularly report shifts being cancelled at less than 24 hours’ notice, threatened with not being given shifts if they refuse work and the majority of workers refused access to sick pay and holiday pay. Those on zero-hour contracts have irregular income which makes financial planning and budgeting impossible.

“The single best thing you can do to protect your rights at work is to join UNISON,” said Regional Organiser David Armstrong.

“We realise that zero hours contracts may seem a better option for some people struggling to fit work around childcare or study, for example, and while we would rather see people in secure employment, UNISON is dedicated to ensuring that any member on such a contract is protected at work.”

UNISON campaigns to ensure that where zero hours contracts are used, there are no punishment clauses for non-attendance and is currently campaigning for a change in law making zero-hour contracts illegal.

If you live in Cumbria and are employed within Health & Social Care, Local Government as bank or relief staff or on a zero hours contract, JOIN UNISON!