zero hours jobs

Zero Hours Jobs



offer figure (3) rock bottom
hardly take it up short-term
seek long-term warehouse
trap (2) duration manage (2)
plus chain (2) guarantee
clerk land (3) make ends meet
rent security equivalent
fee recovery entrance fee
GDP to benefit survive (2)
mend demand on the mend
asset upswing (de)regulation
NGO benefits downturn
union stabilize in order to
fragile respond counter against
rely break (3) put an end
afford flexibility revolving door






Unemployment figures may be low, but this job center in central London is still busy on a normal workday: for many job seekers, short-term contracts at rock-bottom wages are all that’s being offered.

Job Seeker One: “I’ve been offered a warehouse job for zero-hours contract before. I never took it up.”

Job Seeker Two: “Most jobs now are on short-term contracts; there’s hardly any long-term contracts being offered anymore. By short-term, I mean about two to three months in duration.”

Some job seekers manage to land a so-called “zero-hours” job at one of the many coffee shop chains — for low wages and no minimum guarantee.

James Stribley knows what that’s like: he works for a security company as a doorman.

James Stribley, Doorman: “You don’t know until maybe the Monday morning what hours you are working that week or the Friday before. You can’t plan anything.

Some weeks they only want you for a few hours . . . other weeks it could be fifty-hours plus.”

Sue Patel works in a supermarket. She does have regular hours, but only earns the equivalent of €9 an hour — that’s hardly enough to make ends meet in expensive London.

Sue Patel, Supermarket Clerk: “My wages completely goes on my rent. We survive on my husband’s wages for the rest of what we have.

We don’t go out for a meal; we don’t go to the cinema. We don’t go anywhere where it’s costing us to get an entrance fee because we just can’t afford it.”

The British economy is definitely on the mend: last year, GDP growth was 3% . . .

But it’s mainly the wealthy who are benefitting from the recovery. Their assets are growing by over a 100 Euros a day, according to an NGO demanding better job security.

But British employers disagree.

They say labor market deregulation is the primary reason for the UK’s upswing.

Christian May, Institute of Directors: “Zero-hours contracts in the UK have definitely acted as sort of an employment stabilizer. During the downturn and the fragile recovery, they gave employers the flexibility that they need in order to respond to demand or to counter against uncertainty.”

But the unions say it’s time to give workers a better break, considering the recovering economy.

James Stribley has joined a union campaign to put an end to zero-hours jobs.

Martin Smith, GMB Union: “We need jobs that pay. Our members don’t want to rely on benefits. At the moment, millions of people in Britain are trapped in this revolving door of benefits, whether they’re in work or out of work.

90% of new housing benefit claimers are actually in work.

And that’s because they’re on zero-hours work.”

But employers do not want to lose their flexibility.

Now even the Queen’s workers in Buckingham Palace are being given zero-hours contracts.

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1. Unemployment in the UK is low. That’s good news for people looking for work. Is this entirely true, mostly true, yes and no, it depends, largely false or totally false?

2. Are many, if not most entry-level jobs short-term or long-term?

3. Describe “zero-hours” jobs. Are working class people enthusiastic about it? Why do they dislike zero-hours jobs?

4. Can people working on short-terms afford a good life? Do they enjoy a high living standard?

5. Everyone despises zero-hours contracts. Is this right or wrong?

6. Are all people on benefits (welfare) lazy?

7. Zero-hours contracts only apply to fast-food, café and retail workers. Is this correct or incorrect? What is the significance of employees of Buckingham Palace being on zero-hours contracts?


A. Are zero-hours or short-term, temp work common or becoming more common where you live?

B. Do you know anyone who is on zero-hours contracts? How do they describe it?

C. Are zero-hours jobs good, bad, both, or it depends? Give examples.

D. What is the solution to this?

E. Will this be the norm in the future? What will happen in the future?

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