A campaign that aims to end zero-hours contracts in the UK has been launched this week by a group of businesspeople and workers’ rights campaigners.

‘Zero Hours Justice’ will lobby government to ban UK employers from using zero hours’ contracts and provide legal guidance for those affected. It’s being led by Ian Hodson, president, campaign funder Julian Richer, the TUC and Thompsons Solicitors.

According to the campaign, the UK is one of just six EU countries - out of a total of 28 - that still use zero hours’ contracts. Almost 900,000 people are employed in this way, more than four times that of 20 years ago.

"Zero hours’ contracts aren’t a necessary tool for efficient modern businesses, they are archaic and deprive people of dignity and their basic rights."

Rakesh Patel
of Thompsons Solicitors

Zero Hours Justice aims to:

  • Educate and sway public opinion against zero hours’ contracts and how much stress and misery they cause;
  • Offer legal help to those abused by the misuse of zero hours’ contracts by providing expert legal advice clinics by qualified solicitors;
  • Test and change the law on zero hours’ contracts in the UK, where possible, by strategic litigation, taking relevant legal cases to court;
  • Name and shame employers who use zero hours’ contracts by publishing a list of as many as possible in an effort to encourage them to think again;
  • Emphasise to businesses the value of employing workers on fair contracts that guarantee certain hours and the benefits and positivity this can bring to an organisation.

Ian Hodson commented: “Those on zero hours’ contracts are amongst the most vulnerable in our society. Many of them feel powerless to complain, even if they suffer serious problems at work like bullying and sexual harassment. The response from managers can be threats to cut their hours of work. But they simply can’t afford to lose any pay, so what can they do?

“Nobody should have to live like that in 21st Century Britain. Every job should give people the basic security they need to live a decent life.”

Julian Richer commented: “This is an apolitical campaign for those who want a better society. We want our campaign to be a coming together of interested parties to end the awful practice of zero hours’ contracts. As an employer, I care passionately about my colleagues. I can’t imagine anything more likely to cause misery than not knowing day-to-day whether they will have enough money for food or rent. Maybe such contracts can work for a small minority of workers who have other significant household incomes or for students with wealthy parents, but for the vast majority this evil way of exploiting people at work must be banned – as indeed they are in the great majority of European countries. If we can’t give working people basic security, we should be ashamed.”  

Rakesh Patel, head of employment rights strategy at Thompsons Solicitors, added: “Many hard-working people on zero hours’ contracts will have found themselves unemployed with little to no notice after the Christmas period. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands more will have to survive 2020 on a knife edge, not knowing if they will have regular work from week-to-week.

“Zero hours’ contracts aren’t a necessary tool for efficient modern businesses, they are archaic and deprive people of dignity and their basic rights. We are proud to lend our legal expertise to this campaign and ensure that zero hours’ work joins other outdated working practices.”