More than 1 million British workers could be employed on zero-hours contracts, new figures released on Monday reveal, suggesting that British business is deploying the controversial employment terms far more widely than previously thought.
The figure – derived from a poll of more than 1,000 employers conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) – prompted renewed calls for the government to launch a full inquiry into the use of the contracts, after a week in which a string of organisations – from retail chains to Buckingham Palace – have faced criticism for hiring staff but offering no guarantee of work and pay each week. Employees on zero-hours contracts often get no holiday or sick pay and have to ask permission before seeking additional work elsewhere.
What care I from behind my defences that these people suffer
Have I not had the good grace to allow them to get on?
Am I not a responsible employer rewarding of industry?
If they cannot get bread then let them eat coal and dust
What care I in my greed, that my human debt is part unpaid
The world is made and each according to their means survives
And if they do not; then what care I; for I am safe in my ease
I did not make the world nor invent these unjust laws of power
Yet I will use them in extremis; even though my heart says no
For the demon of avarice sits upon my shoulder and whispers
So then I damm these wretches to a lifetime of servitude and fear
For what care I; when the world is so sweetly moneyed for me