According to the Opposition zero-hour contracts ought to be abolished; according to Prime Minister John Key, they could do with some amendment.
Zero hour contracts, favoured by fast food outlets or similar corporations boasting high employee turnovers, are contracts where despite an employee’s requirement to make themselves available for work, the employer is not actually required to provide any hours for that worker.
According to the Opposition zero-hour contracts are unfair on young and inexperienced workers; according to New Zealand’s Government the standard of these contracts just need ameliorating somewhat.
The zero-hour standard has undergone amelioration. Now if small employers want to implement zero-hour contracts they must provide for their employees benefits, retainers, assurances; in fact all the liberties one would expect to receive from working such highly skilled positions…
I wrote a piece a while back entitled ‘Minimum’. It referred to ongoing complaints from minimum wage workers that their wage was insufficient. Of course I maintained that if a worker has no qualifications, no skills and is working a position that requires no training, chances are, that’s all they’re probably entitled to. I can’t help feeling that the same theory might apply here.
For someone who is new to the workforce and perhaps isn’t even willing/able to work fulltime I’m sure zero-hour contracts are fine; for someone trying to maintain a household probably not so much, so perhaps this latter group ought to be sourcing their employment elsewhere.
In order for small business in New Zealand – they may be part of a massive franchise but individually they’re still pretty small – to survive often the ability to employ workers on the cheap is a necessary evil.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Sarah Awa
Photography by Chip Whirr-Kerr