Wetherspoon moves to scrap zero-hour contracts

Wetherspoon is offering its 24,000-strong workforce the chance to move from zero-hour to permanent contracts in a move that could signal the pub chain’s scrapping of the controversial employment practice.

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin (Photo: Wetherspoon)

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin (Photo: Wetherspoon)

Company founder and chairman Tim Martin announced the move after launching a trial earlier this year which revealed that four out of five employees preferred a contract guaranteeing them a minimum number of hours’ work per week. The trial will now be rolled out across the country.

Wetherspoon’s move will affect around 24,000 staff employed by the pub chain and follows similar decisions taken by high-street names Sports Direct and McDonalds.

Wetherspoon has found itself In January this year the drinks business reported how the pub chain had blamed labour costs for subdued financial results following a 13% rise in starting rates for its staff introduced in October 2014.

“We decided to do a trial, which started six months ago in certain areas of the company. It was big enough to get a good idea of what the take-up has been,” Martin told BuzzFeed News, adding that around two-thirds of staff on zero-hours contracts opted to move on to a fixed-hour deal.

The number of guaranteed hours is around 70% of the typical number of hours they work each week, according to BuzzFeed.

However, take-up of the permanent contracts will mean members of staff will know the minimum pay they will earn each month.

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“It’s not something that was ever, ever brought up in my conversations over the years,” Martin added.

“It used to be called ‘hourly pay’ and we’ve probably all done hourly pay – that was just the way things were.

“Then someone came up with the term ‘zero-hours’ on it and everyone realised ‘Oh yeah, there is no guaranteed hours’.

“We’ve already offered guaranteed-hour contracts to a percentage of our workforce and they’ll all be offered one in the next three months.

“In spite of me saying there’s no advantage with them we’ve had quite a good take up of 70% to 80%.”

Last week an Office for National Statistics report revealed that the number of workers in the UK on the contracts has risen by 20% in the last year to nearly one million.

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