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Zero hour contract use varied across pub trade

By Ellie Bothwell , 06-Aug-2013
Last updated the 07-Aug-2013 at 11:19 GMT

Related topics: General News

The use of zero hour contracts is varied across the pub trade, an investigation from the Publican’s Morning Advertiser (PMA) has found.

80% of JD Wetherspoon staff have no fixed hours

80% of JD Wetherspoon staff have no fixed hours

The investigation confirmed that leading hospitality companies Whitbread, Stonegate and Mitchells & Butlers do not operate zero hour employment contracts. Meanwhile brewer and pub operator Greene King is “currently in the process of removing” the practice.

These responses come in light of business secretary Vince Cable’s review of the use of unfixed hours across all sectors and a trade union call to ban them. Under these contracts, which are particularly prevalent in the hospitality industry, employees have no guaranteed paid work and must be available to work as and when is required.

A Greene King spokesperson said: "We are currently in the process of removing all zero hours contracts from our business. This has been completed in our head office and we are now working on removing any residual contracts from our retail business."

Mixed responses

Over the weekend news broke that the majority of staff at leading pub chains JD Wetherspoon and Spirit Pub Company are on zero hour contracts.

JD Wetherspoon confirmed that 80% of its staff, or 24,000 people, are on the contracts, although pub managers do “try to give staff the hours they want”.

A spokesperson said: “Wetherspoon does operate flexible contracts for its hourly paid staff. The company operates in a seasonal sector and offers flexible hours to meet demand.

“Wetherspoon probably offers more hours per week than any other pub company because of its long opening hours and the fact that its pubs are busy throughout the day.

“Staff also receive holiday pay, bonuses, staff discounts and other benefits including a free shares option after 18 months. Flexible hours suit many people, though we appreciate that they do not suit all.”

Spirit Pub Company also confirmed using the contracts, adding that all the firm’s employees are entitled to benefits such as holiday pay and company discounts.

“We operate in a seasonal sector and offer flexible contracts to the teams in our pubs to ensure we meet demand when necessary.

“We invest heavily in our teams’ learning and development, such as our award-winning apprenticeship programme, which helps our employees build careers in the hospitality sector,” a spokesperson said.

Under-reported

A survey of 1,000 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development revealed that 3-4% of the whole workforce, or 1 million people, were employed on zero hour contracts, four times the amount estimated by the Office for National Statistics last week.

Keith Knowles, chief executive of Beds & Bars, previously said he banned the contracts in his company after his daughter was sent home from her job unpaid because it was quiet.

However, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association Martin Couchman and Solutions 4 Caterers director Peter Flaxman both defended the contracts when speaking to the PMA last week , saying they allow flexibility for a seasonal and fluctuating industry.

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