Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Kevin Brady: “It’s in the best interests of candidates for job sites to advertise ZHCs”

You probably don’t need me to tell you that the UK job market is going through unprecedented changes at the minute.

The employment landscape is evolving at breakneck speed - from the increase in automation to the record numbers of self-employed workers, it seems the job market will soon be unrecognisable to what we knew only several years ago.

However, it’s the unrelenting surge in the use of zero hour contracts (ZHCs) that continues to attract the most media attention than anything else. How did we get to this stage? How should the recruitment industry react to ZHCs?

It’s no secret that employers like ZHCs for the fact they don’t guarantee hours or sick leave. They also tend to be paid less than ordinary workers.

We also know from the ONS that 38% of zero hour contracts are held by people between 18 and 24 years old. They are also most likely to work these types of contracts.

Over 14% of AdView users fall into this age group. That’s partly why I believe it’s in the best interests of UK job seekers for sites such as AdView to advertise these types of jobs, despite legitimate concerns over their benefits.

I’m not suggesting that ZHCs are ideal for everyone. Far from it. We’ve already seen them banned in New Zealand, despite their increase in use in the UK.

Be that as it may, it should be acknowledged that there’s a significant difference between a student or young person living with their parents and someone supporting a family and paying rent working in a ZHC. Studies have shown that younger workers are more likely to report job satisfaction in these types of contracts.

I personally know a 24-year-old who works 25 hours a week in catering on a ZHC and tops up his salary by working as a freelance web designer. Could this be the face of modern work in the UK? With 900,000 workers now on ZHCs and record numbers of self-employed workers, you’d be forgiven for thinking so.

That said; if workers of any background want to find more permanent work they should be assisted as much as possible by job sites and recruiters.

It also goes without saying that every measure must also be taken to ensure that job search sites don’t advertise any jobs that pay less than the NMW or discriminate against applicants in any way.

Though it seems to me that as long as legitimate ZHC jobs exist, job seekers should have the option to apply to them should they choose.