zero-hour contractsYou get a phone call from your boss. He wants you to work over the weekend – which is great because you could do with the extra money – but it means you’ll miss your daughter’s birthday party. But if you don’t do it, will your boss stop calling in future? Will the work dry up entirely?

Precarious working contracts (including so-called “zero-hour” contracts in the UK) are common across the EU. For example, under the rules of a zero-hour contract the employer has no obligation to provide work for the employee, who is expected to be available whenever needed (though they are paid only for the hours actually worked).

Supporters say this sort of flexible working arrangement is perfect for people who want some extra income, including students and retired people. Critics, however, say zero-hour contracts are becoming common for all sorts of workers, and they give too much power to employers, putting people with families and mortgages to pay in a precarious position.

With unemployment rates perilously high across the European Union, should we be trying to create jobs at any cost? Or should the focus be on ensuring quality jobs with decent security?

We had a comment from Paul, weighing in on this issue:

citizen_icon_180x180Zero hour contracts have always been around. It’s just the latest buzz word for casual work, and some people actually prefer not having a contract and just working when needed but they just don’t make good headlines.

We spoke to Anneliese Dodds, a British Labour MEP who has pledged that her priorities in the European Parliament will be to “protect and extend workers’ rights across Europe, including measures against zero-hour contracts“. How would she respond to Paul’s argument?

doddsPaul is right, zero hours contracts have been around for a long time. What has changed though is their prevalence, especially in Britain. The UK’s Office for National Statistics recently found that about 1.4 million jobs offered in the UK are on zero hours contracts, and that marks a definitive increase in their use.

Some people do like the flexibility provided by zero hours contracts, but the evidence suggests that for many, all the flexibility is in the hands of the employer and not the employee. With these contracts having become the norm in some sectors, we have to shift to a situation where people can legitimately expect some degree of security at work, so they are not unaware from one day or week to the next how much money they will have coming in.

Not everybody agrees that this shift is necessary, however. We also spoke to Sony Kapoor, Managing Director of the economic policy and development think-tank Re-Define and one of the 40 Under 40 European Young Leaders. He argued that, with jobless rates so high in Europe, we just don’t have the luxury of choice when it comes to quality of employment. The priority should be on getting people into work.

He also argued that many countries have such rigid labour markets that there are already lots of people working “outside” the system with poor worker protection. Kapoor thinks the focus should be on increasing labour market flexibility so everybody can benefit, not just insiders protected by labour unions.

Of course, different economies in Europe have different challenges. In the United Kingdom, the unemployment rate has dropped to 6% – the lowest it has been since 2008. It might be appropriate for the UK to get tough on precarious contracts (indeed, whilst not going as far as the opposition Labour Party – which wants to ban them completely – the governing coalition says it will clamp down on abuses of zero-hour contracts) whilst other EU economies may still need greater flexibility.

Should there be a Europe-wide ban on precarious working contracts? Or, with unemployment still sky-high across Europe, is greater labour market flexibility still needed? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Damian Rees

144 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • avatar

      You WILL work for free once automation reaches a certain stage.
      We’re almost there.

    • avatar

      More people get paid for doing nothing.

  1. avatar
    James McManama

    Well, “zero-hour” contracts are certainly being abused by employers in the UK. And unemployment is low enough now that I think it’s time to focus on this issue (especially as the UK has anyway secured all these opt-outs from EU labour laws). Not sure about the rest of Europe, though.

    • avatar
      Fairness Lin Lin

      I am agency registered nurse,sometimes I could turn up for a nursing job in the ward and was told that my shift was canacelled because a hospital bank nurse had turn up for that shift,so I had no job for that day and that mean I have no pay too.. Some agency will pay you for two hours for turning up at the ward and some don’t. Normally the shift is for 12 hours.THe NHS hospitals are the biggest abusers of agency nurses and agency health care assistants

    • avatar

      Unemployment is low enough….they play with statistics…they have cut out a lot of people from claiming that is all…so the statistics seem low.

  2. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    This mentality is legalised exploitation of humans. With the excuse or even better said THREAT of unemployment, corporations are forcing the European and global workforce in unfair working conditions by bringing them in conflict with each other! They just simply do not want to pay what they should be paying and they want to exploit people! Thus bringing in conflict workers from poorer EU countries, or non EU countries with the native population, they manage to achieve their goal. In the EU, and especially the eurozone we got to have harmonisation of salaries and pensions. We pay the same prices to buy our goods in a supermarket because of the euro! So we need to start earning the same!! Similarly we need to establish the same workers rights and working standards across the EU. For EU nationals and non EU nationals, legal immigrants in our countries! This unacceptable exploitation of foreign nationals, making them pay not only higher taxes, but visa entry fees, bogus college subscription just to stay in the country and terrible working conditions because the native workers would not work under such conditions must stop. Immigration is used as exploitation, while we are the ones who need a certain number of immigrants to cover our gaps in our working force. So better and clearer immigration laws, perhaps less immigration in numbers, but full integration with pan European laws that establish them is needed at last!! But you see if such thing come into existence, the multinationals won’t have any people to exploit so they lobby the national and EU law makers to pass laws that make human exploitation legal and acceptable, with the excuse of “competitiveness” and progress or “growth”… Shame on them!!

    • avatar

      No, its just doing work for money, its as old as the hills, Banning Zero-hours contracts is like banning casual work – it won’t work.

    • avatar
      Bill Balharry

      Well written – I 100% agree.
      Bill Balharry

  3. avatar
    Olivier Laurent

    Do you believe that banning short term working contracts will create more long term working contracts? If yes, could you please explain your reasonning?

    Based on my experience (working as entrepreneurs for 16 years). I see simply more black market and/ore more unemployment.

    • avatar
      Mark Rowantree

      Agree entirely!

  4. avatar
    Jaume Roqueta

    what if we BAN products made in third countries that do not respect human rights? … like fon instance ban clothes that are made by children in slavery?… ou shit… this is forbiden by the world comerce organization!…

  5. avatar
    Spyros Kouvoussis

    or we could restrict movement of capital, so that capital will be forced to employ more people on permanent employment.

    • avatar

      … and then we can the stop people going abroad to work. Good luck with that.

  6. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Gret thought Jaime! No more career politicians, once you’ve done two terms you are out of politics for a considerable time! Back to your old profession to make money the hard way like the rest of us!!

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Christos Mouzeviris
      I agree with your 2 terms idea!

  7. avatar
    James McManama

    Term limits for politicians? Interesting idea… but isn’t there a risk that politicians then never gain the experience needed to do their job? Don’t laugh – it does actually require experience to understand the legislative process from the inside and navigate committees, etc. Politicians with less experience could be less able to hold the government to account and even MORE likely to be manipulated by lobbyists.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @James McManama
      Politicians CAN gain prior experience by firstly doing a ‘proper job’ for many years first AND then doing a thorough chartered qualification in “Political Administration’ or similar second.

      Two terms is enough.

    • avatar
      Bill Balharry

      There is an easy answer to that – ban professional lobbying entirely.

  8. avatar
    Dijana Šobota

    Quality of employment should not be considered a luxury but a condition sine qua non!

    • avatar
      Bill Petris

      in the modern EU standards, we have to barely live.

  9. avatar
    Antinazi Archimedes

    Actually the other way round. The longer politicians are in office, the more bond to be corruption. We need “flexibility” bring feudalism and slavery back.

  10. avatar
    Gatis Gailitis

    Yes it should be banned. Paying a fair wage should be something everyone from very small businesses to big corporations have to do. Ot should be mandatory in every country in EU. At the moment we live in a situation where you have to rely on sales targets met, tips and benefits. It should be introduced slowly controlling the expected inflation and shrinking job market.

  11. avatar
    Bill Petris

    So, lets cancel public hospitalization, insurance & retirement pension because they cost too much and are against the flexibility. Lets die working because EU has to live.

  12. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    European central powers are facing away from the injustice that exist in the European labor market seek the bosom buddies interests with elaborate products from thrid countries and not respect the rule of law are legally protected beacuse I advocate reforms in immigration systems and create a new fair labor model where everyone can make their rights as citizens

  13. avatar
    Thomas Hemmings

    Start a petition to take to the European commission to ban all zero and flexible contracts so all we can all enjoy a peace full night sleep not worrying all night if we are going to be able to pay for our rent this month or are we going to be kicked out ???

    • avatar
      British Patriot ;)

      The EU created the problem by legislating that all employers must offer part time staff the same benefit entitlements as full time staff. The way around it is to simply offer no hours and of course with that comes no employment benefits at all. More big business lobbying now occurs in Brussles than in Washington. Unelected EU commissioners get paid more than their elected American counter parts. Its funny how many Europeans, especially us Brits, laugh at and mock American politics and their crazy system yet we are mimicing it in the EU more and more by the day.
      Meh… I’m ranting…
      A petition sounds like a great idea, I will sign it if you post a link, however I feel it will fall on deaf ears. The EU cares more about expanding than taking care of its current citizens

    • avatar

      Please don’t push that obsolete ideology here. Labour market flexibility is code speak for ‘more corporate profits, more executive bonuses, less salary for ordinary workers’.

      The more open a labour market is, the more jobs will disappear to low wage countries.

    • avatar
      British Patriot ;)

      My reply is to Marcel. Obsolete Ideology??? Labour market flexibility is essential.
      “The more open a labour market is, the more jobs will disappear to low wage countries.” – No, more CO2 taxes and higher energy bills will drive manufacturers to low wage countries. On average, 40% of a factory’s out goings in the UK go on energy bills, the number is similar in any western country. The exodus of manufacturers (i.e jobs) from Britain and America to China go hand in hand with an increase in energy costs and “green” taxes. Though I have not checked, I would imagine the story is the same for any European country that has seen jobs exported to Asia, as we are all governed by a standard set of rules/restrictions etc. I know Sweden has seen a lot of toy makers move their manufacturing operations to China, only to ship the products back home once they’re made. And that is the result of green taxes…. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad

  14. avatar
    Daniel Dimitrov

    You cannot, nor you should, force an employer to employ staff longer than he is able to pay. As long as everyone has medical coverage and pension benefits accessible, why not go flex. Market will adjust all the rest. Even better, go hourly rates.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @ Daniel Dimitrov:

      Perhaps your philosophy is one we should all cling on to it is so very brilliant. However, along with it you should also suggest we do away with annual salaries for those in our various Parliaments. Let them get a minimum hourly rate for time worked whilst they are watched by an overseer against tasks they don’t do. In our British House of Lords for example, the pay they get for just turning up to the House, sitting on the bench and snoozing, ‘clocking in’ is £300 per day + expenses, tax free. Add to that subsidised meals catered and served, subsidised booze and a cushy day altogether chatting and smoking cigars with their chums. Most of them, the majority, do not turn up until around, 11am, check in, have lunch, stay until they can register for having spent a full day, at around 2pm, then go home. And do you know what kind of people we have sitting in that House of Lords? Old politicians thrown out by the electorate more than 20 years ago. Women who have performed no tasks at all for the country and are there to make up numbers for some politically correct obscenity, and then, on top of it, fiddle the expenses to the tune of thousands of tax payer pounds. And when they are caught, sent to jail or face a charge, after conviction they return to the Lords for the rest of their idiotic lives for us to keep. There are many jail birds in the Lords, fraudsters, of all kinds, both male and female, most of them, like the Pistorius killer, get off of some horrendous crime the ordinary man in the street would have done some hefty time for. And there they are back yucking it up with their old friends who do exactly the same crime without being caught. All costing the hard working business men ‘called tax payers.’ Who can’t afford it either, but, ‘are’ forced to pay for it, whether they like it or not. Can you explain why those who run businesses of other kinds should be exempt for what we have to fit the bill for? Or, is that beyond public thinking?

      Until all men and women are treated with equal attitude for a ‘right’ to have a civilised standard of living in a modern society, we will always be kicked in the arse for being stupid nags constantly primed by propaganda to save the souls of those who think they and not us are deserving. It starts at the top. With Royals. ‘You must be’ sorry for us,’ we have to walk around and cut ribbons and shake hands with the likes of you proletariat, even when we have morning sickness, just to keep our standing in the pecking order, so that we can leech off you to the tune of billions, which I hasten to add is not anywhere near enough for this sacrifice we take on for you people.’

      Pleeeeese, enlighten yourself and get up off the knees of subjugation before you have us all begging on street corners for the right to survive. I’m going to tell you a true and checkable story. If you are an American citizen and have paid for a college education by going to work at nights to get ahead, and then leave that same college with a degree of some sort, finding to your utter distress, there are no jobs for you at any level except ‘hourly contract’ labour then this is what you face.

      A job as a waiter or waitress, who is ‘legally’ paid less than the minimum wage of say around $2.00 an hour, you receive no pay whatsoever. How’s that? I hear you ask, that cannot be. Oh, really. Well the $2.00 an hour, no matter what kind of dive you are working in, greasy spoon or diner, you are considered by the US government to be receiving tips, for which you have not paid tax. As a result, they keep all you pay of the $2.00 an hour in lieu. You are therefore forced to live on any ‘tips’ you ‘may’ have been handed. Their government colludes in begging as a job. So, naturally, people who are not selling sex as a sideline to their waiter/waitress activity, cannot live on such an hourly contract. So they have to look for a second job. Usually something like cleaning in their so called spare time not at the diner. Either from 4am in the morning doing offices, or, some other task they barely can stand up to do. Then of course that too is taxed and the pittance from two jobs means you are still unable to pay the rent, even if you fiddled a meal at the restaurant you work in. So now you have to find another job on the side, like car washing, sweeping yards, or clearing snow. Anything you can get to survive. However, that all falls to the wayside the minute you get pregnant or fall seriously ill, and Jesus, you find that instead of the young aspirant guy with the world at his feet, you are another bag man or woman pushing a trolley nicked from the supermarket to hold your pile of junk you call your belongings.

      So people, open your eyes to the reality of life for so many across this Western society and begin to work on behalf of us all, and not stand licking around the scratchings of those who feed you the nonsense they do until you become brain dead as a result.

      Here is a very good example of what we are backing. We collectively therefore, are supporting a third world lifestyle for the people of Europe when we go along with the nonsense they are selling.

      Here is a true example of it right in your face.

  15. avatar
    Jaume Roqueta

    we need more labour market flexibility in order that people need two jobs and work for 14 hours in order to pay the rent of his house!…

  16. avatar
    Lydia Thailand

    Should regulate the big corporations … So people wouldn’t work 10 and more hours a day just for example 6 every day and then they would need to hire 2 people for the same job. Nah ?!

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      @ Lydia Thailand- Hi there,

      Some necessary clarifications & additions: …..Corporations are only ~50% of the picture.

      SMEs / SMBs /MSME or Micro enterprises, even a one-man/woman show can be a sustainable, profitable and entertaining work/business. This is determined by the degree of the “entrepreneurial spirit” a person naturally has or not and the all-round risk one is prepared to take or not! This is still one the greatest human spirits- not legislated- freely available & around- pioneering!

      It excludes a philosophy of entitlement, mediocrity, fear and anxious reliance on others or institutions. It needs a strong belief in oneself to have enough skills, strength, character, great imagination, trust and some savings to be able to offer something special to all the future clients- the market! Some European insight:

      Your reference is frightening one sided and only applicable to some “undemanding” type of work (Call/Service Centers etc.) with no/low skills. Unskilled work will more & more disappear in future and taken over by technology- automation & robotics.
      You really think you could share responsibility, innovative, creative or managerial effort, skills & thinking on an hourly basis?

      However, if young & given an opportunity as a “first stepping stone” into the world to market your ability, skills & personality- be it even for a short moment- one never knows what could evolve!

  17. avatar

    It doesn’t help if they are just banned.
    There needs to be a lenghty jail sentence attached to it so greedy employers think twice before trying.

    “It has always been around” is one of the dumbest excuses ever.
    In the 17th century a slave owner would have told you that slavery has always been around too.

  18. avatar
    Erich Scheffl

    Europe treats people like slaves. We need a welfare Vision for the people. The stress level is too long too high. And you do nothing for working on a welfare strategy. You only ask, and make Marketing. You can manage it. . We need esteem of the people !!! You cannot keep the popolation in such stress levels. You did this now for 20 years.

  19. avatar
    John Stevens

    Zero hours are offensive. It is not a contract it is a form of slavery whereby the Employer owns an individual. Employment needs to be a guaranteed 40 hours with paid holidays. Casual work may suit some, yet most people cannot plan anything or ever afford very much with these shocking arrangements. It is a scandal. author of Sanctioned!

    • avatar

      I agree. But casual work isnt zero contracts ive done casual and you go in at set money per hour and set hours. Zero contracts as far as i understand arent set hours employers are using people to get work done which begs the question dont these employers know how much work needs to be done and when? Ive heard care workers say they are on them. Ive looked after my dad. He had to be cared for each day are they saying some need to be cared for some days and not others? If makes no sense to me. I bet the elderly would benefit from set carers on set days and set hours.

  20. avatar
    catherine benning

    PS: There is no contract in zero hours. That is an oxymoron.

  21. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    Many ZERO-HOUR contracts are illegal under UK law [unfair contract] and EU law [restrictions on trade and the right to work] – unions should take fascist employers to the courts, simples!

    ZERO-HOURS contracts ONLY work IFF the prospective employee holds the balance-of-power ie they can hold several such contracts WITHOUT informing employers of same.

    • avatar

      It’s legal and like many people I work on one

  22. avatar
    Active Unemployed Austria

    They should be banned, because its a form of modern slavery and violate the human right of freely chosen full work as statde in ILO contion 122

    The problem of unemployment is a political problem of too less democracy in economy. There is enough money to give everyone a meaningfull work which enables enough income for raising his/her levels of living. We should redistribute money and labour so that everone can share in this rich society!

    The growing gap between rich and poor is not a nature law, its the political and economic system – stupid!

  23. avatar

    A far more urgent thing would be to impose term limits for all political offices and to make it illegal to be a career politician.

    I once had a zero hour contract, it was quite good since there are few people with the specific knowledge in the specific field I work in. Now I no longer have one, because I was unfortunately unable to impose my demands on the employer.

    However, since my skillset was (and still is) in demand, I quickly found some other place that would give me what I wanted, and a nice contract to go with it.

    Is this zero hour contract discussion a sign that at long last politicians will cease with the endless ‘liberalize job markets’ and ‘sign free trade treaties’ ideology? I wish it were so.

    • avatar
      catherine benning


      I agree absolutely with this last post of yours on not allowing politicians to have more than a certain number of terms. Once they are past their sell by date they must accept their fate and get the hell out of any form of government, which includes using their insider knowledge to land a job for the boys they have helped scam us.

  24. avatar
    Sean Conrad

    Nothing wrong with zero hours contracts if they are genuinely that ie there is no mutuality of obligation. An employer does not have to offer work and an employee does not have to accept it. It can suit employees of course especially if they have uneven work flows and can’t always offer permanent contracts but it can suit employees too especially if they are highly skilled and want to choose when and where they work. I think the problem lies more with the low skilled employees who don’t have so much demand for their labour and who are therefore vulnerable to employers who will abuse these contracts just to keep their labour costs low.

    • avatar

      Yes, it is the abusive practice that messes everything out. Unfortunately I have not heard of mutuality in these contracts. The employee refuses and stops getting called. The skilled professional, the one the “boss” really needs, is always better off though.

  25. avatar
    phil Davidson

    If zero Hour contracts are so Good then everyone should be on them, Let the politicians get paid minimum wage only for the time they attend meetings, let the police get paid only when they are running down the street chasing crooks, let the firemen only get paid for the hour they attend the fire, but don’t include travelling time.
    Zero hour contracts are creating a sub species of society who have No right of appeal when it comes to working time directives over length of working days, working conditions, Holidays, or sickness benefits. complain and the boss stops sending you work, no unemployment benefit and no redundancy packages in this sub society.

  26. avatar

    I am on a zero hour contract im a carer I work from 7 in the morning till 10 at night yeah that is a long bet you think I get a realy good wage well I only get paid for the time im with my clients which equals to about 6 to 10 hours a day the more people they employ the less days I get now you tell me Is this fair cause I don’t think it is I am exhausted now im off ill with a cold I wont getpaid for thiss I have to work when im ill to feed my son I hope they do ban it maybe I will be out of work for a bit cause they don’t do contract for carers but hey a least I will get the rights as contracted person this is just an insight in to my day to day battle what do you think

  27. avatar
    Attila Hok

    the huge problem here is that employers ALWAYS fail to tell cancidates at the interview that it will be a zero hour contract.
    the huge problem here is that employers LEGALLY lie at job interviews, make people leave their previous job and then they do not offer the hours they promised.

    I hate the fact that contracts do not have to be written. I believe that written contracts should be MANDATORY at the time of offering a job, not two month later, but BEFORE you decide whether you take the job or not.

    A decent employer emails you the contract that you can accept or refuse.
    But unfortunately, they can lie whatever they want, and from now and ever I do not believe a single word employers SAY at interviews. They lie.

  28. avatar
    Attila Hok

    simply employers who abuse zero hour contracts should be banned from applying zero hour contract for the next 5 years. This would stop them using them excessively on everyone.

    My current employer told me at the interview that 30 hours a week is guaranteed, at the induction we were told there was a zero hour contract, when I pointed out that on a zero hour contract the employees are not obliged to accept any shift offered, I was told it was not a zero hour contract however I am having weeks with 17 and 24 hours, which in my opinion is under the guaranteed 30 I was originally told.

    • avatar

      Its a disgrace they should have 30 hour jobs if not they must lack work and are using you. Its a way of getting the most out of people for little money as possible being self employed is better

    • avatar

      Generally in the UK most are overworked underpaid and badly treated. Employers get away with a lot and no one complains 10-12 hour shifts? If work was organised better they wouldnt need to exist

  29. avatar

    Yes it must be stopped that I work on zero hours its s**t you work two days only sometimes its not good for the wage in the company its too much useless people but they still keep them and some people making there money as well is it fair. No it is not.

  30. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Yes…. We got a life, we are not work horses to be always on demand and be fired with a great ease… Yes to flexibility to those who like it or seek it but it should not be compulsory. We are here to live our lives, not just work so that the corporations can prosper. We are not working ants… We are humans!

  31. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    This contracting is lopsided. The employer calls when he wants. Can the employee call when he wants some work? I am sure he can but the employer can sey, sorry, not today. Well… the employee should be able to say the same. Period.

  32. avatar
    Ioanna Geor

    I would like to add that this contract violates personal space and time.. if employers are allowed to call you in for work when they feel like, then you as an employee will lose family and personal times- birthdays, excursion with kids etc. I can see whole family systems being destroyed just by this type of contract

    • avatar
      Dobromir Panchev

      Absolutely true! The worker has no way to do any plans for the future because the income and free time will vary all the time. Should be banned!

  33. avatar
    Jaume Roqueta

    no!… zero hours contract is the elemental notion of economy arround wich all the world turns… the philosofical stone as important as the zero money contract.

  34. avatar
    Gatis Gailitis

    YES THEY SHOULD BE BANNED. They’re inhumane. Also there should be 10 hour limit within 24 h period. Of you want to work more get an extra half shift. In Latvia it’s still legal to work 24 hours. That’s a killer!!

  35. avatar
    Vincent Kleijn

    If it works both ways then it would be alright. But people with 0 hour contracts and who gets called that there is work and they say ‘no’ then either they lose their contract or they are simply not called upon anymore. If the employee has the same influence on the contract as te employer then it would be alright. Otherwise you can see it indeed as a form of modern slavery

  36. avatar
    Eugenia Serban

    This is ABUZE and SLAVERY !
    No contract, legal contract can not force one party to be a slave, always at the employer’s disposal. THAT S UNACCEPTABLE AND ILEGAL, I presume.

  37. avatar
    Peter Castermans

    In some way i had this also. The boss called me in the weekend for working in his shop. Did this 8 years. During summer i had contract for several weeks. But i did this “as a student”. As student this is good for some extra money. Student work is popular in Belgium and this is the way it works. But we don’t have this for adults. This formule isn’t something for workers who have to live from it. If this is common, it is abuse. Make it only legal for student jobs. Other jobs must give a decent security for income, hours, etc.

    • avatar

      I like it! Thanks Peter!

  38. avatar
    Ed Cocks

    Nobody was forced to enter into work like this so it’s just fine. Don’t like the conditions of the contract, don’t sign it.

  39. avatar

    Ultimately, and employment contract is a legal document, hence, the parties signing off on it usually know what they are committing to, or not, for that matter. No individual is forced to sign off on a zero-hours contract.

    • avatar
      Louis Kasatkin

      Try telling that to the 30 million unemployed across the EU.Every employment agency in Britain operates zero-hours contracts all the time.

  40. avatar
    Raymond Timmers

    It could be usefull for both employee and employer in theory, but reality mostly tells otherwise. 0-hour contracts are a disgrace to people willing to commit to labour.

  41. avatar
    Tsvetelina Merdjankova

    I understand the more libertarian approach to the matter but here we talk about the right to have a secure income as a legal source of living. So such type of contracts should be at least more strictly regulated by the law. As a minimum standard of labour protection they should be made enforceable by courts and related to the social security system. Otherwise there is a high risk of using them as a mere tool of exploitation of needy people by unscrupulous employers. And unfortunately in the last years we have witnessed many such cases.

    • avatar

      This comment is argued absolutely to the point! Thanks Tsvetelina.

  42. avatar
    Sylwester Malanowski

    funny does i cold be more happy after a some things changes at our citizenschip at Europe i mean Poland takes a chance for a missing train up to good governors and economy all the best

  43. avatar
    Bobbi Suzic

    What does contract imply. They ask u IF u r available? Or u shall be available any time. It is big difference

  44. avatar
    Louis Kasatkin

    I am a leading campaigner in the Yorkshire region against Zero Hours Contracts-see facebook pages ” ABOLISH ZERO HOURS CONTRACTS” and ” OCCUPY YORKSHIRE”. My own constituency MP,Mary Creagh (Wakefield) when I asked her if she would be prepared to advocate abolition chickened out live on air on a BBC Radio Leeds phone in.

  45. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurtoe

    there is no responsable for the mandate we are checking with our vote we vote for parties that often ignore human rights humanist values are factors of competitiveness of the European elites central political powers have their responsabilities by the end of slavery in modern Europe and respect the rule of law rights of all European workers

  46. avatar
    Serafim B. Tavares

    If man wants to belong to the realm of nature will have to keep away from things that are unnatural. Because, he one day will have to suffer with consequences of your choices.

  47. avatar
    julia nurse

    how can a person live with a job that they may have one day but not the next its wrong to treat anyone that way

  48. avatar
    Ray Manghan

    These so called zero contracts are a total disgrace for individuals who are trying to earn a living for themselves and/or family. They should be made illegal to protect the working rights of all individuals. Ban them under Employment Law as they are an affront to this country and what it stands for – or used to stand for.

  49. avatar
    I Shaw

    Zero-Hour contracts are the result of government pretending they can protect the workforce and working rights by delegating their obligations to employees to the judiciary system rather than face the reality that their are more unscrupulous employers than honest, decent and fair employers. There is no protection for Zero-Hour employees, no matter what is put on paper in some legislators office, never to see the light of day. Protect our workforce and make Zero-Hour contracts illegal.

  50. avatar
    UK Person

    After the recent the election in the UK the ‘zero-hour’ contracts will be on the rise even more due to the method the Conservative party will use, as defined in their detailed manifesto, to get people off of welfare benefits. Push them towards this kind of employment and if they refuse to take it stop their benefits fro refusing to seize a work “opportunity”. Now I’m not saying they should be outright banned as some people have them to supplement other work or need them to live, like the carer that commented earlier, however I would see them regulated and controlled.

    Make ALL employment need a written contract that clearly defines minimum and maximum hours per week that can be arranged to meet the required time. If it is to work around a currant employment then it specifies the days the individual is able to work . I don’t think banning them outright would be a solution as it would lead to more underhanded and unregulated “cash-in-hand” employment though with proper regulations and restrictions they could be made to work and be more productive than their currant state.

  51. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    It is nothing to do with the EU so the question is meaningless.

    You should be worrying about the massive influx of cheap labour with the financial migrants, they will drive up unemployment and drive down wages in the Schengen area.

  52. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    There should be no such situations but a “precarious contract”, a “zero-hour contract” is a construct to cover up unemployment accepting policies.
    The problem has to be solved at a deeper level. At the level of company and government taxation, privileges and responsibilities.
    Otherwise these “contracts” will be replaced by some other “contractual artifact” created by some creative lawyers. No question about it.

  53. avatar

    There should be no such situations as “precarious employment” but a “precarious contract”, a “zero-hour contract” is a construct to cover up unemployment accepting policies.
    The problem has to be solved at a deeper level. At the level of company and government taxation, privileges and responsibilities.
    Otherwise these “contracts” will be replaced by some other “contractual artifact” created by some creative lawyers. No question about it.

  54. avatar
    Davide Crimi

    Precarious contracts are useful for entrepreneurs and banks. People may accept them exclusively if they got un unconditional minimum income, otherwise is a form of soft-slavery.

  55. avatar
    Rui Duarte

    Unemployment is not something you fight with «Laws» or «bans». High unemployment europe-wide is the result of stupid macroeconomic policies: no ban and precarious contracts can correct that. That said, Zero-Hours-Contracts, slavery, all forms of harrassement (sexual, moral.. all) should be banned; europe-wide, yes. But always bear in mind that labour-related REGULATION will not solve the problem of precarious work in europe: only intelligent and pragmatic economic policies that reduce unemployment can do that.

  56. avatar
    Nigel Daff

    sadly – this modern invention of “zero hours WORK contracts” is propaganda in politics to play with the true statistics – creating figures showing MORE working and LESS unemployed – thats it – simple tricks!

  57. avatar
    Eduardo Galhardo Campos

    Yes, ban it !
    In our micro-firm we are only 2.
    We could be 5 or 7.
    But when I can’t easily fire (unperforming nasty players) I don’t hire.

    We just keep precious ones – and these (we are not stupid) we don’t fire. !

  58. avatar
    Toni Muñiz

    I don’t understand what precarious working contracts and labor market flexibility have to do with one another. I lived in the USA many years, most of my life, and never had a work contract. Yet every job I had was long term. The problem in the EU is the governments don’t make it easy to report bad employers. I know plenty in Spain who employ people under the table, employ illegal migrants at low wages etc. etc. There should eb a number you could call and report this. If employers feared being fined, they wouldn’t take advantage.

  59. avatar
    Jaime Martins

    Do You like to work without paying you anything?
    Others do not too, don’t like to be exploited to feel slaves.

  60. avatar
    Ioanna Geor

    What kind of stupid question is that? The solution to unemployment is more job opportunities! Unless you are talking about what is convenient for companies

  61. avatar
    JP Faure

    The achievements of democracy are being denied and dismantled by greed – corporate welfare is now more important than citizens (public) welfare. The question that is not being posed is “who, at the end of the day, creates growth and employment?”. The answer is citizens as consumers. No purchase power means no consumption; no consumption means businesses can’t sell their goods and services. This means no growth, no employment, no welfare and just debt… and a final general collapse. Since 2008 we all have had enough proof of the consequences of hyper-liberalisation and privatisation frenzy. Just saying…

  62. avatar
    Paul Spiteri

    There are precarious jobs where there are no contracts at all they engage persons with loose conditions known as free market … Also there are French foreigners who work for no income as they have to work for three to six months to get their university diploma?

  63. avatar
    Gosse Vuijk

    These contracts are very important for, for example, students in the Netherlands because they give them the flexibility they want during their studies. Having zero hour contracts means that they can devote time to their studies when they need to and enjoy their student life when they want, meanwhile still making money. I have been a student in Amsterdam for six years, and I have not heard anybody complaining about this. So I don’t think the EU should decide on this, but Member States should critically look at the conditions under which these contracts should be allowed and the MS should decide on legislation on this issue.

  64. avatar
    Глобалността и ние

    Deflationary pressures in the global economy is caused by unpaid work and this will lead to a global depression. The question is extremely stupid. It is important that the work to be paid regardless of the contract, which means not just minimum wage, but to have a minimum wage for each type of work.

  65. avatar
    Matthew Gwynn

    This has nothing to do with the EU. Individual democratic nation states should decide these things

  66. avatar
    Melanie Kehaya

    I’m in the UK and have lived abroad in Holland. In Holland I was on zero hour contracts for years but then there was a heap of work. I have friends still out there on these contracts. If they don’t get the hours the government tops it up automatically so you can pay your rent, eat and have spending money. In the UK you are fairly safe if you have younger children as they make sure there’s enough for basic needs. If you have a partner with a regular income you are fairly safe as there is guaranteed money coming in. If single and no children/dependants in the UK, once you hit that 16 hours a week you are not helped at all so you are living from one week to the next not knowing if you can pay your rent or eat. You’re at the mercy of your employers. It’s hard enough already getting by on a 40 hour week on the minimum pay if you have rent to pay. They keep trying to convince us that we ‘like the flexibility’…my arse…maybe for the people with dependants, a second income from a partner or rent/mortgage to pay but for the rest of us we can be on the street from one week to the next…..!

  67. avatar
    Fairness Lin Lin

    once a shift is booked it should not be cancelled when an agency nurse or health care assistant turned uo for a 12 hour shift work. However the shift can be cancelled before 10pm for the early morning shift starting at about 7.30am. There is a verbal contract and under common law it is a legal contract..Since there is a verbal contract then the nurse should be allowed to work for at least the normal office working hours of seven and half hours.. In the eighties and nineties some nursing agency encouraged the agency nurses and health carers to claim for the seven and half hours shift if their shift is cancelled within one or two hours of starting the shift. Now is no longer the norm NHS is trying to save money , the nursing agency is trying to maintain goodwill with the NHS, the legality and verbal contracts under common law are all swept under the carpet. Nurses and health carers are too weary to challenge such unfair system. The NHS and nursing care homes are the worst abusers of zero hour contracts. Those who are affected by such unfair contracts should seek legal advice. Any jobs which are cancelled just before you start work or cancelled after a couple of hours of work, the casual worker should be paid the seven and half hours . {normal office working hours.} This should be enshrined in the Employment Law and can be claimed in the small claims court. In fact make sure your shift is texted to you with ref no. and you can claim for the loss of earning for that day from the small claim court against the agency or the Hospital trust.

  68. avatar

    Im not so sure on all this drop to 6% in the UK for a start i know many employed as self employed (doesnt mean they have great incomes) 2nd many arent in employment but arent claiming either. The situation for the mentally ill and disabled is pretty dire as most jobs are multitasking so even for £15,000 year jobs you have to do many tasks. I remember a time when job roles were spread out more. Now employers expect people to be multitasking something many with disabilities cannot do. The difference in zero contract is you dont have set hours and wages, ive done many casual jobs and all have been set wages and hours. We also have to careful on what types of jobs people do many can be cash in hand, family work etc so people are working but not necessarily legally. Its much more complex

  69. avatar

    Zero contract isnt necessarily a casual job and many even clerical jobs for £15,000-£17,000 involving reception ordering, customer work even though the words clerical and admin mean paper work. There used to be just archive jobs or filing jobs and ive seen recently post clerk involving reception work which are two utterly different things

  70. avatar

    Zero hours contracts is like a modern day slavery where employers use their employees. Zero hours contracts employees don’t have any contractual rights whatsoever. What kind of system is that? How can an employee be given a shif to resume for work from 8:30 am to 5:00pm, wakes up at 6:00am shows up at work and after 2-3 hours into shif, only to be told, not needed and ask to go home. Tell me what’s that then, if not modern day slavery? How can employers pay their bills, especially the mortgage? While employers are getting away with exploitation and manipulation, making lots of money abusing the system. Zero hours contracts should be ban completely. Or employers should only employ students and elderly people on zero hours contracts to make extra income, not young and family people, because they wouldn’t survive on zero hours contracts.

  71. avatar

    They should ban it yes, and they should also fine every employer for all the years they have been doing this disgusting practice, especially large employers who say ‘everyone here is on a zero hour contract’.
    How can you run a business if your employees and none-of them is obliged to accept the shifts you offer?
    Sportdirects and McDonald’s staff should go on a two week strike nationwide at the same time simply because they can do it. They are not obliged to work are they?

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