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CSP says zero hours contracts must not erode workplace rights

16 October 2013 - 1:47pm

The CSP opposes the use of zero hours contracts when they allow employers to exploit staff and avoid issuing them with permanent contracts.

Read the consultation response from the CSP to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on zero hours contracts.

Responding to a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) consultation exercise, the CSP said that high-quality patient care depended on having committed, motivated staff who felt secure in their jobs and had appropriate workplace rights.

It argued that the continued use of bank contracts was likely to drive some people out of the NHS.

The use of zero hours contracts by household-name firms attracted widespread media coverage earlier this year, prompting the BIS to launch its consultation.

While accepting that there was a long tradition of NHS staff taking on bank work to earn extra money, the CSP voiced concern that bank contracts were increasingly being used as the ‘standard way of starting employment within physiotherapy’.

Its response was influenced by members’ views on zero hours contracts and bank work, which they expressed by using a dedicated email box.

Members who had done bank work said they were denied support, appraisal and training; worked when sick; did not have holiday or time off; and found it hard to make financial plans.

On the positive side, some said bank work gave them greater  flexibility,  eased childcare issues and gave them a chance to gain physiotherapy experience.

The society told the BIS that it accepted that zero hours contracts suited some people. Having bank staff can be useful in some circumstances, such as short-term staff absences or an unpredictable increase in workload, it noted.

But the CSP argued that when the government talks of zero hours work practices offering ‘flexibility’ , the advantages for the employer vastly outweigh any benefits for the employee.

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