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Labour Calls for Summit On Zero Hours Contracts


By our political team

Summit on zero hours contracts will help tackle exploitation of hardworking families & jobseekers – says Labour’s Nancy Platts.

photo of woman smiling
Nancy Platts. Labour candidate for Brighton Kemptown May 2015

A summit to discuss the impact of zero hours contracts will help to tackle any exploitation of hardworking families and jobseekers who have to sign up to them, says Labour’s Nancy Platts.

The Brighton Kemptown & Peacehaven General Election candidate says the contracts leave people with no sense of security and make it difficult for them to plan ahead or budget their finances.

On Monday 5th August the Labour Party announced it would hold a summit on the issue with the workers signed up to them and the employers who use them.

It follows the news that over one million people are thought to be on zero hours contracts which mean they do not know how many hours, if any, they will work each week and they are not eligible for sick pay or annual leave.

Nancy said: “Personally I would like to see zero hour contracts banned. The announcement that more than a million people are on zero hour contracts is a national scandal that affects many people across Brighton and Peacehaven; people who want to work are being exploited.”

“We can’t have a situation where families and young people don’t know what their working hours are from one week to the next and are unable to plan budgets at a time when living costs are rising.

“How on earth does this Government expect people to be able to pay their rent and their bills if they don’t have security of income?  Only a Labour Government will offer what people need – that means sustainable jobs, financial security and affordable childcare.”

People on the contracts are only paid for the time they work, so even if they have to wait on work premises or be at home waiting by the phone they may not be paid for this waiting time.

Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna MP, says the Labour Party is determined to stamp out abuse of zero hours contracts.

Chuka said: “Labour believes zero hours contracts should be the exception, not the rule. This sort of flexibility can be important for some employees. But the news today that one million people are on such contracts makes it clear that far too many workers and families are now caught in this zero hours trap.

“In too many sectors and companies, including in the public and voluntary sectors, this way of working is becoming the norm. In particular we are concerned if people working full time hours are offered no choice but to stay on zero hour contracts indefinitely. We need to start putting it right.”

The Labour Party will hold the summit later this month and when the House of Commons returns the party will call a debate and vote on the action that needs to be taken.

Nancy wants people in Brighton Kemptown & Peacehaven to get in touch and tell her their views on the matter so she can pass the comments on.

People can get in touch with Nancy via her email info@nancyplatts.org.uk

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  1. Firstly in order to become a qualified EFL teacher one has to have a degree and a minimum of 120 hours post-grad training, most often a certificate called a CELTA which involves some observed teaching practice. Then the fledgling teachers go out looking for work, quite often abroad, in schools that put great demands on teachers to meet particular standards. Working abroad has a different set of rules from working here but often you can be tied into unreasonable deals based on contact hours. [One teacher I met was in a school in Greece when there was an outbreak of chicken pox. Infected staff were unable to work and so had to ‘make up’ the contracted hours at the end of the contract or not get their return flight.]

    Schools generally employ you, sign you to a zero hour contract that contains the demands and expectations of the school. They will pay you for contact hours worked each week, which vary from week to week, and there is some percentage of holiday pay included in this package, (typically something like 0.8% of hours worked). Some schools – particularly the largest, international schools that employ hundreds of teachers, only pay this quarterly in arrears, presumably so they can accrue interest. Sick pay is not part of the deal. You don’t get paid for hours not worked, nor do you get paid for marking, admin or preparation time – which can build up significantly depending on which classes you have and which aspects of English you are teaching. Breaks are also set (compulsory) and unpaid. Schools often demand arrival some half hour or 45 minutes before classes (unpaid time), and sometimes after classes have finished too up to 15 minutes a day, and attendance at meetings, usually weekly, often in lunch breaks (unpaid time). Likewise with in-house training. When challenged employers often say that marking and preparation are ‘included’ in the remuneration, likewise attendance at meetings etc. When I first began teaching in EFL in 1988 the average pay per (contact) hour was about


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