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Gagged and bound: the fine print of a casual contract

 To understand the challenges casual or zero hours workers face, look at these extracts from the standard casual worker contract issued by ISS Mediclean/ISS Facility Services, the world’s largest outsourcing company, at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Trust, Woolwich, London.

The company states:

1. Your work will be on a casual basis as and when required….

2. The Company is not obliged to offer you work, at any time or in any capacity.

3. You agree that your legal status when carrying out work for the Company….is that of a casual worker. By agreeing to the terms of the letter you agree that you will not be, nor will you become, an employee of the Company.

4. You will be offered assignments to any role….you may be assigned to any of its departments….

5. ….you will be remunerated at the prevailing hourly rate….you will be paid only for the hours you have actually worked….

6. Any assignment may be terminated by the Company supplying you with two hours notice of termination.

7. The Company has no obligation to provide you with work….

8. …not to divulge any information to any third party concerning your work, patients and / or clients….

9. As you are a worker, you are entitled to a pro-rated equivalent of a full time worker’s paid holiday (24 days for a full time worker)…under the Working Time Regulations 1998. Your stated entitlement is inclusive of public holidays.

10. As you have no normal working hours, a week’s entitlement for the purpose of calculating your entitlement to paid holidays will be determined by taking your average number of hours worked per week in the thirteen week period prior to your taking any holiday.

11. You will not be entitled to carry over unused holidays….

12. You have no entitlement to any contractual sick pay.”

A worker under EU and UK employment law has limited if very few employment rights compared with an employee who has contractual and statutory rights.

Casualisation of work robs the worker of employment continuity and stability. It reduces every hour paid to the minimum.

There’s no overtime, travel time, or enhanced rates. Every hour is a negotiation, and workers are robbed of holidays – casuals by definition will struggle to complete 13 consecutive weeks of employment

Casual workers are also robbed of sick pay other than statutory sick pay. And they are gagged from revealing malpractice by the company.

ISS deny employing zero hours casual workers. Such workers ISS define as expressing their ‘freedom’ to enjoy a work-life balance which suits their personal circumstances. Any casual worker stepping out of line is refused employment. Cynical casual workers describe themselves as ‘the enforced self-employed’.

The numbers of workers employed on zero hours contacts rose to just below 1,000,000 at the end of 2016, nearly 25 per cent up on 2015.  It is not only the high profile Sports Direct, Uber and social care scandals we should be looking at ,but also the penetration of the same practices into hospitals, nursing homes, as well as higher education institutes’ catering, security, cleaning, portering, delivery and services, to name just a few.

In 2016 New Zealand outlawed zero-hours contracts. Britain should follow this small country and abolish the re-emerged 19th-century tyranny of casualisation.

• Related article: Caught in the casual trap