Sports Direct recently published a report in which they apologised for poor working conditions for its staff and agreed to stop using zero hours contracts. They have also announced plans to scrap their controversial ‘six strikes’ policy that meant workers could be dismissed for occurrences of six issues, which were often relatively minor offences such as excessive chatting or long toilet breaks.
The report comes after months of criticism of the working practices at Sports Direct. They have often been portrayed as the face of zero hours contracts, which came under fire during the general election campaign. Changes to the laws regulating zero hours contracts were subsequently made offering greater protection and redress for those employed under such contracts, but there has still been much concern that they are being overused by employers.
Following the Sports Direct report, JD Wetherspoon also announced plans to allow staff to be released from their zero hours contracts and become permanent employees. Currently 24,000 employees are engaged by them on zero hours contracts which will be phased out over the next three months to contracts which guarantee a minimum of 12 hours work per week. Soon after Greene King and the Everyman cinema chain also announced plans to scrap zero hours contracts by the end of 2017.
It appears that the negative publicity surrounding zero hours contracts has increased the pressure on employers to return to more traditional models of employment guaranteeing a fixed number of hours, rather than effectively allowing them to keep workers on call on a permanent basis. Given the fact that zero hours contracts now appear to have fallen out of favour it may be that the government takes steps to outlaw them altogether, although this has not been expressly stated as yet.
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