By zero hour contract, I don't mean you turn up for work, do basically nothing and go home with £300 as disgraced Lord Hanningfield claims is quite common in the House of Lords. Zero hour contracts are ones where the employer has no obligation to give you work i.e. you can turn up for work, get told there and then whether you're needed and can be sent home without pay for the day.
Some groups such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have claimed that Zero hour contract workers are happy whilst others such as the TUC demand tougher regulation of these contracts. To quote the TUC
"The growth of zero hours contracts is one of the reasons why so many hard-working people are fearful for their jobs and struggling to make ends meet, in spite of the recovery"
Into this mix Vince Cable acknowledge the clear signs of abuse but decided not to ban them on the grounds they offer 'welcome flexibility'.
So are they good or bad? Well, in my view it's a form of exploitation which should not be welcomed but that's not the point of this post. Whenever you hear someone talking positively about zero hour contracts or providing surveys and market research proclaiming the benefit then the one question you should ask is :-
"If zero hour contracts are so good, I assume you're on one?"
If they're not, then show them the hand and walk away.
I, would of course welcome the use of zero hour contracts in the House of Lords. We could take a quick online vote as to whether we needed them today or not. Clearly, if Hanningfield's claims turn out to be true then many are just turning up to claim expenses.
I'll finally note that Hanningfield's defence of his actions were "I have to live, don't I?" - well, there's always income support and housing benefit which is what the rest of the country uses. If you need the money Hanningfield then get on your bike and get a job. From the sounds of it there's a lot of highly flexible and 'happy worker' zero hour contracts out there.