A higher minimum wage for non-guaranteed hours?
As part of its response to Matthew Taylor’s review of good work the Government has asked the LPC to consider the impact of a higher minimum wage for those hours that are not guaranteed as part of a contract.
The issue we want to tackle is that some workers, including some on zero or short hours contracts, can suffer what Taylor calls ‘one-sided flexibility’. Employers can shift the risk of unpredictable working patterns onto workers, who have little say over what can be unpredictable and volatile working schedules.
The idea is that a higher minimum wage for these non-guaranteed hours would compensate employees while encouraging employers to offer more predictable and stable work schedules. However, we’ve also been asked to consider any other ideas that may lead to the same or better outcome.
We commissioned research into atypical contracts last year and certainly found examples of the one-sided flexibility that Matthew Taylor talks about. For example Andreas, a bar worker on a zero hours contract, told the researchers:
My contracted hours are zero but I've been doing, since the day I started I've been doing pretty much full time, so around 30 to 35 hours. However, it's bar hours and it's not steady because if we're not busy I get sent home. And there have been days that they've called me and they've told me they don't need me, like an hour before my shift. So it varies.
Similarly Lisa, working in a fast food outlet, said:
Come Thursday night when I’ll check my schedule, I have no idea what I’m going to have next week. It causes a lot of anxiety and I know it will be a lot worse for the people who aren’t as lucky as I am with the scheduling. It’s a lot of instability.
This research, alongside others (by the TUC, GMB/speri, Citizens Advice) suggests that there is an issue to be tackled but doesn’t tell us enough about the scale and nature of the problem or the appropriate response.
We’re keen to hear from employers, workers and their representatives on both the problem itself and what to do about it. In particular we’re keen to hear about good practice, where flexible working works for both the employer and the worker.
Each year the LPC consults with a range of organisations, employers and individuals on the rates of the Minimum Wages.
Our consultation is in the field, closing on 1 June 2018. We want evidence on the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates, as well as views on tackling one-sided flexibility.