Boots staff on zero-hours contracts could be sent to work abroad
Workers who sign the controversial agreements – which guarantee neither work nor wages – must also be prepared to travel to any of the chain’s UK stores.
The Sunday Mirror has seen a zero-hour contract from the high street chemist, which demands that its employees – most of whom are paid the minimum wage – must be prepared to leave their homes and families at any time.
It states: “There is no requirement to be based permanently outside the UK – although you may be required to work abroad for short periods of time depending on the needs of your business.”
It goes on to say: “The company cannot guarantee to provide a minimum number of hours per week. The company reserves the right to make changes to the hours and days you are required to work.”
Boots said its use of the contracts is “very limited” and that they include holiday and sick pay. It added: “If a zero-hour contract is used an early conversation takes place with candidates to understand availability. Both parties are then clear on the level of hours a candidate can commit to.”
The firm is one of a growing number of large organisations to use zero-hour deals, including Amazon, Sports Direct and even Buckingham Palace and the Coalition Government .
Lancashire County Cricket Club’s Old Trafford ground, which is staging the third Ashes Test match, asks minimum-wage staff to be available any time from 6am to 1am, yet will not guarantee any work.
Labour MP Ian Lucas, member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cricket, said: “Those who run the club should ask themselves whether they’d like that level of job security.
The club did not respond to our calls yesterday.
More than 250,000 British workers are employed on zero-hours deals, according to Office for National Statistics figures.
Liverpool Wavertree Labour MP Luciana Berger fumed: “Workers don’t know from day to day if or when they’ll be called to work, or how much money they’ll be able to bring home at the end of the week.”
TUC Secretary Frances O'Grady: Stop stripping workers' rightsThe rise of zero-hours contracts is yet another sign of how tough it can be for people at work under this Government.
Rights are being stripped away. Employees now have to wait two years before getting protection from unfair dismissal. New charges as high as £1,200 will make it impossible for many to take a case to an employment tribunal even if they would get their boss bang to rights at a hearing.
Zero-hours contracts sum up what is going wrong. They shift almost all power from the worker and give it to their boss. Anyone on such a contract has no guarantee of any work from one day to another. Put a foot wrong, and you can find yourself with little or no work. Speak up and you can be denied all but the most anti-social shifts.
Even those lucky enough to have a secure job are probably earning less in real terms than they did five years ago – while prices for fuel, energy and food are much higher.
Four in five new jobs are in low-paid sectors, and many are going to people who once had better jobs that not only paid more, but made full use of their skills and talents.
It is becoming clear that zero-hours contracts and poor conditions are common at household names and major brands. It is not just the gangmasters of backstreet enterprises and sweatshops.
It is not enough to just want jobs for all. We need to ensure people have decent jobs that pay well, where they can use their skills and be treated with respect.
Too many ministers seem to be happy with a jobs market that can offer no more than minimum wage jobs that provide no guarantee of work and give their bosses the kind of absolute power that Victorian mill owners once had.
Britain can – and should – do better.