Citizens Advice Scotland has reponded to the Scottish Affairs Committte's request for written evidence on how zero hours contracts affect people in Scotland.
Bureaux in Scotland advised clients on over 44,000 new employment issues during 2012/13, making it the third most common area of enquiry after benefits and debt. Case evidence regarding zero hours contracts has been on the increase over the last year.
1) Due to the lack of mutuality of obligation between employers and workers, those on zero hours contracts have fewer rights than those with a contract of employment. There is also a lack of clarity around what employment rights zero hours workers are entitled to (especially around holiday pay entitlement).
2) Workers on zero hours contracts are at risk of experiencing an unexpected drop in hours and are susceptible to being dismissed without their employer following a proper dismissal procedure (when employers simply stop offering a worker any hours).
3) Those on zero hours contracts have fewer maternity rights and, due to the lack of security these contracts entail, can be more vulnerable to discrimination.
4) As a result of fluctuating and part time hours, those on zero hours contracts have difficulty claiming in and out of work benefits. They may have to submit information about changes of circumstances on a weekly basis, and manage Job Seeker’s Allowance and Working Tax Credits Claims interchangeably.
5) Job seekers can feel pressured into taking on a zero hours contract despite the working hours, pay and skill level being inappropriate. Job seekers can be at risk of being sanctioned if they fail to accept a zero hours contract, or leave one voluntarily.
6) The varying hours and pay which zero hours workers experience makes it difficult to budget and manage household costs. This can lead to rent arrears and workers seeking high interest credit in order to meet their living costs.