McDonald’s Shakes...the UK!

After it was revealed that was employing people on zero-hour contracts, it was then the turn of Buckingham Palace to come in for some slack on the same account. Now, it’s McDonald’s that is being lambasted by the UK for being the biggest zero-hour employer in the country. It looks like the chips are down for McDonald’s right now and they will need some extra virgin oil to start frying again if they want to clamber back up to the surface. The people will probably forgive; the British love sport. They will definitely overlook the Queen’s employing poor people on zero-hour contracts; she’s the Queen after all and a great-grandmother now and well some people will forgive her. But, the British are hardly likely to forgive the fast-food chain despite the fact that it is the biggest in the country. But, it certainly will be a case of third time’s lucky. The third one always comes a cropper; it’s the law of averages.



As McDonald’s shakes the country after admitting that it employs 82% of its employees (82, 800 staff) on the zero-hour contracts they have been told to provide their employees with minimum guaranteed hours in their contracts by UK politicians. There is currently a review that is being carried out of this type of controversial contract in the UK.

There are some who say, however, that had the flexibility of the zero-hour contract not existed at a time when the UK was suffering from the consequences of the fallout of the financial crisis, then they would be queuing up just behind Greece, Spain and Italy to get the money doled out and the food parcels sent over. That’s as may be, but does that mean that the people being employed should be exploited in such a way as to mean that they have no guaranteed income from one month to the next? Some of those employees that are working for McDonald’s are simply being exploited on the system that is a loophole open to the company. Many of them work regular hours of between 20 and 30 hours a week, and still the company has refused to place them on contracts that guarantee a wage. If McDonald’s is employing 82% of its staff in the UK without being able to guarantee the number of hours that they can give them each week, then they might as well close down tonight before the Drive opens and they get a McFlurry somewhere where it hurts.  Ronald has a lot to answer for!

A zero-hour contract is legal in the UK under the provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1966, meaning that there is a contract that is signed but the employee is considered to be ‘on call’ for the employer. It was intended for retirees and students in the beginning and for seasonal or part-time work. In the UK, there were 200, 000 people on this type of contract in 2012 and the majority of them worked in either the hotel and catering sector (19%) or the health industry (13%). People with children have difficulty with this type of contract (as they are called in at very short notice) and work can be refused without any reason or justification and the person left without an income from one day to the next.

Calls have been made in the UK to ban this type of contract which does little else than maintain people in a situation of financial and social precarity to the benefit of the employer. Looks as if someone won’t be loving it for much longer, doesn’t it? 
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1 Comment

  • fazsha

    Reply Reply August 16, 2013

    I think zero hour contracts are wonderful; they are voluntary contracts, the employee can quit any time, and it allows the employer to only employ them when they are needed. This is in keeping with laissez-faire economics. Would you like to have to pay a contractor an hourly rate on fixing up your home when he is not needed? Of course not - why should it be any different for an employer?

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