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Action on Hearing Loss defend use of zero-hour contracts

Charity workers not guaranteed hours

Tuesday 20 August
Action on Hearing Loss defend use of zero-hour contracts

- August 20 at 07:30

Controversial zero-hours contracts can be beneficial to staff and employers, business and charity leaders have claimed.

Action on Hearing Loss last night defended its use of the contracts after advertising for two community support workers in Stockton and Sunderland who would not have guaranteed hours.

The use of zero-hours contracts by companies and public bodies has been widely criticised by union leaders and politicians, with Business Secretary Vince Cable warning against the "exploitation" of staff.

But Action on Hearing Loss said it needed a flexible workforce that allowed it to respond to changes in contracts and hours of support.

Louise Pritchard, Action on Hearing Loss executive director of services, said: “Action on Hearing Loss care and support services are committed to personalisation. This means ensuring people have a real choice and control over the support they receive, so that they can live life the way they choose.

“Our localised care and support managers decide when it is appropriate to call on zero-contracted staff and told us that it is important to be able to have a staff team that enables us to respond as swiftly and flexibly as possible to best serve people with a hearing loss, and by using zero-contracted employees, they can achieve that.”

The charity, which said only 4.4 per cent of its care and support staff were on zero- hours contracts, said the arrangement benefited its staff who also wanted flexibility, while maintaining their holiday entitlements and sickness benefits, and being entered into the charity’s contributory pension scheme.

North East Chamber of Commerce director of policy, Ross Smith, said that when used appropriately, zero-hours contracts could prove beneficial to both staff and employers, particularly in specific cases where individuals were dependent on flexible working hours.

“While I believe that the vast majority of businesses would only use zero hour contracts in the appropriate circumstances, it is important that these contracts are used correctly and not as a way of businesses avoiding responsibility for their workforce,” he added.

But Beth Farhat, regional secretary of the Northern TUC, said zero-hours contracts should be “an exception to the rule, properly regulated and not be used in an abusive way by employers”.

Figures released from the Office for National Statistics at the end of July suggested 250,000 workers were on zero-hours contracts, however a more recent survey suggested their use could be much higher.

Dee Davies, Wednesday 28 September

Perhaps Loiuise Pritchard and her support managers would be happy with zero contracts!

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