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Are Zero Hours Workers Actually Happier?

Zero HoursZero hours contracts have been in the news a lot recently. Much of the news has been negative too, leading to many questions about how appropriate the contracts really are for workers. 
However, according to the latest research revealed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), workers on these contracts actually seem to be happier than those who are on more traditional types of contracts. The report used data collected from 2,500 zero hours workers and the results were indeed revealing. Could this point to a negative stance by the press that has led to an unfair evaluation of zero hours contracts?
A better work life balance
This was one of the most notable facts to come out of the CIPD research. According to the results almost two thirds of those questioned (65%) were happy with the balance they achieved between their work and the rest of their life. This is in stark contrast to the 58% figure quoted as relevant to workers on other contracts.
In terms of job satisfaction the gap was far smaller – just 1% difference. However those on zero hours contracts came out on top here too, with 60% saying they were satisfied in their work compared to 59% in general. However there was still 27% of workers on these contracts who were not satisfied.
Other facts also made for interesting reading, such as the fact that a little more than half of those on the contracts didn’t want to be offered more hours. However, more than a third (38%) said they did, so there is some concern here as to whether the contracts are suitable for everyone who works on them.
Does it depend on the employer?
Perhaps the biggest area of interest concerned whether or not workers experienced a large number of cancelled shifts. According to the survey nearly half of those who were on the contracts had experienced cancellations to shifts with no notice. Furthermore, some 20% of those surveyed said they were penalised (either by loss of wages or in some other way) if they were not available to work when asked. However this in turn meant 80% were not penalised in any way – clearly the majority.
It shows there is a much more in depth picture to consider here than the headlines sometimes indicate. Whatever the case may be, the rumblings about zero hour contracts are likely to continue for some time yet.

Flexible Working is Key Demand for Workers

Flexible workingFlexible working has been in the headlines more and more recently, and a survey undertaken last month by Office Angels has provided more grist to the mill with regard to its popularity.
Indeed, this particular survey found that overall around 60% of the office workers who took part wanted the choice of flexible working. They went as far as saying they would look for an alternative position if their current employer wasn’t able or willing to offer flexible working.
An uneven split among ages
Most interesting of all was the split that was shown between different age groups. While the majority of workers questioned would move to get access to flexible hours, the percentages were higher in younger workers.
In the group of 25-34 year olds, some 70% said they were willing to change jobs in the absence of flexible working arrangements. In contrast, workers aged between 45 and 54 were evenly split. Half of them would move jobs while half would stay put.
Are employers responding to these demands?
They do seem to be. The same survey found that 65% of employers have noticed an increase in the volume of workers who want to have the choice of working flexible hours as opposed to a few years ago. It would seem that the power is with the employee now since more and more companies are changing the way they work to enable more people to adopt flexible hours. There is no reason to suppose this will not continue into the future as well.
Perhaps most notably there are fewer specific reasons given by workers who want to have flexible hours. Looking after the children is a main reason, while others prefer to have choice over when they travel. However others simply want to have the freedom to be able to choose their working hours so that it fits in with their lifestyle.
Clearly there is a need to balance the needs of the business with the needs of the employees. However research has shown that flexible working can lead to a more positive outcome for everyone. Sickness is shown to be reduced in these situations, and that leads to fewer lost hours for the business concerned. All in all, if the idea of flexible working is approached positively, it can be a good situation when viewed from either side of the equation.

More People Now Have Part Time Jobs

The government puts plenty of stock in the figures when it comes to revealing how many people are in work. But the main figure is just the tip of the iceberg. In reality it isn’t the number of workers that is the only concern – it is the number of hours they are working for.

If the recession and subsequent struggles have taught us anything, it is that part time jobs have become more common. This is not the way many workers would have things, but it is a case of ‘any port in a storm’ when it comes to retaining employment. In some cases hours have been reduced; in other cases pay has been reduced. If someone leaves a job or is made redundant they often find they can only gain part time employment elsewhere. This still counts as someone in work – but it does not reveal the hardship behind dropping from a full time position to a part time one.

part time workShorter hours can lead to more stress

A recent study revealed that shorter hours can affect wellbeing. It even posited that working fewer hours can lead to higher levels of stress. When you add in the fact that more people are being forced into working shorter hours rather than doing so by choice, it is easy to see how challenging this can be.

It is also well known that the cost of living has continued to rise in recent months. This provides another challenge when pay packets are already being squeezed. It’s clear there is no easy solution when more businesses are offering part time hours rather than full time positions.

Businesses must adjust to the financial landscape

Of course it is not easy for businesses to manage the situation either. Their goal is to remain in business. This may mean cutting down on employee numbers or adjusting the way they recruit people. If you are looking for new staff in London, for example, you can assess whether a London recruitment company might be able to provide you with temporary staff as and when required. This could be a more positive choice compared with the idea of taking on permanent staff – at least for the foreseeable future.

The length and depth of the recession and the period of austerity is hard for us all. However, it is surely better to have fewer hours to work than none at all.


Encouraging Signs for the UK Job Market

UK Job Market The jobs market has been somewhat fraught with tension over the past few years – and for good reason. However the latest information seems to indicate there is cause for optimism.
The Reed Job Index has shown an increase in the volume of jobs available during August. Focusing on all job vacancies, there has been a 16% rise in opportunities since the same time last year. 
Different sectors have shown different rates of increase, but many have performed well. By far the best of all has been the property and construction sector. This is up by two thirds (67%) compared with last year. Leisure comes next, with an increase in vacancies of 61%. The health and energy sectors are lagging some way behind, but they still showed encouraging signs by improving at the rate of 41% and 40% respectively.
Healthy news in other surveys as well
These results have been borne out by those achieved by other recent surveys too. The CBI/PwC survey has shown an increase of 10,000 jobs in the financial sector, with another 2,000 expected to be added to that total by the time 2013 comes to an end.
A few weeks ago another encouraging result came from the Robert Walters European Job Index. This provided evidence of 4% more UK job vacancies being available in the second quarter of the year compared with the first. 
What does this say about the future?
Clearly this is all good news for the jobs market and for those who are currently looking for work. However some areas of the UK seem to be benefiting more than others. By far the biggest winner in the latest Reed Job Index was Scotland, which saw an increase in advertised vacancies of almost a third, at 29%. The other areas which have seen the best results in the last year have been the East and West Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire. This means those living in the north have had more vacancies to pore over than those living further south. One wonders if this north-south split will continue in the near future, and what the next Reed Job Index will reveal.
Salaries have not jumped by any significant amount, so budgets are still being squeezed from all directions. However the increasing prevalence of more job positions does at least give people more choice when it comes to looking for work.

City jobs 'up 120 per cent'

City jobs 'up 120 per cent'A new report suggests that jobs in London's financial services sector have increased by 120 per cent since the beginning of 2009.

Vacancies in the City rose to more than 11,000 during the first quarter of 2010 in comparison to the figure of around 5,000 available jobs one year earlier, according to research by Astbury Marsden.

These figures show that the City is recovering well in the post-recession period and the increase in job availability is also forecast to carry on as the market continues its revitalisation. Around 53,000 jobs are expected to be created in the sector this year, a 26 per cent increase on last year's figure of 42,000 new roles.

Throughout the previous two years, many employees unhappy in their jobs stayed put due to the lack of options in a weak market. However, new candidate registrations grew by 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2010.

Employment website Monster indicated earlier this week that the UK's general job market was becoming healthier as it recorded a 15 per cent rise in employment figures during March 2010 in comparison to the same month one year earlier


Sept 19, 2013 by Nick Chief Executive Charity

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