19 January 2017
New research from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) has shown a fifth of employers with staff on variable-hours contracts are given less than 48 hours notice of their shifts, and 22% said workers were not permitted to turn down shifts they were offered.
In a survey of 1,100 line managers, senior managers and HR managers across England Wales, 19% they did not allow staff to specify times or days when they were unavailable to work, and 10% said staff can neither turn down a shift nor specify times they are unavailable.
As many as 7% – nearly one in every ten employers using variable hours contracts – said they give their staff less than 48 hours notice of shifts and that staff are not able to turn any shifts down.
The CAB highlighted that it is therefore very difficult for variable-hours shift workers to organise essential parts of their lives.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, explained: “Childcare and study are just two examples of plans where you need more than 48 hours to arrange, but for some people turning down work is simply not an option.”
The Institute of Employment Rights calls for all people in employment to be given the same suite of fundamental rights from Day One rather than distinguishing between “workers” and “employees”. This means that those in more precarious roles such as agency workers and staff on variable-hours contracts will be provided with the same statutory rights as their colleagues as well as benefiting from any collective agreements that have been negotiated at their place of work.
We further argue that the focus of labour law should shift towards collectively agreed wages and conditions rather than depending on individual statutory rights that provide a floor for employers to aim for; and that these agreements should exist at sectoral and enterprise levels to provide minimum standards across industries.
These recommendations were put forth in our Manifesto for Labour Law, which has been adopted by the Labour Party.