inploi: the end of the zero-hour contract? inploi Team | 19.04.2016
When inploi was founded back in July 2015, the UK's zero-hour contract was under heavy scrutiny. Would an end to zero-hour contracts be a positive or negative influence upon the UK's gig economy?
The “zero-hour contract”, under which employers are able to hire staff with no guarantee of work came into the spotlight of the UK's national conversation during the election battle of 2015. They remain contentious: many argue that they are exploitative and offer people limited job security; the government has defended them saying that they “have a part to play in a modern, flexible labour market”, and should be rebranded as “flexible-hour contracts.” Regardless, it was reported in September that the number of workers on zero-hour contracts in the UK has gone up 19%, to 744,000; and that 1.5m such contracts exist, meaning many people are working on more than one.
We’re not particularly interested in the politics of it, but do not prescribe to the view that they offer some wonderful form of flexibility for the ‘self-employed’. Sure, there’s a serious argument to be made for the flexibility of labour, and for the payment of people only for work that they do. But giving complete power over this to employers is capitalism at its worst: it’s the base commoditisation of labour, with workers themselves disempowered. Wondering if they’ll be asked to go to work. If they’ll have enough income to pay the rent; heat the house; to buy essentials. Scrambling to get to work when they’re told at short notice that they’re in fact needed; contorting to accommodate the demands of employers. Portraying these people as ‘self-employed’ on ‘flexible contracts’ is not an accurate representation of their realities.
We don’t think it’s on, and want inploi to be a platform that brings more balance to the employer-employee relationship: giving people more information and greater certainty about their working lives. With Inploi, job seekers are able to access a catalogue of open shifts and positions, filtered by their own working preferences: when they want to work, what type of work they want to do, whether they’re available at short notice, and how far away they’re able to travel. Hiring happens through the app, and once hired employers are contracted to pay for the job they’ve posted. Employers still select who to hire, but the relationship is a balanced one: job seekers know when they’ve got a job, and can apply for different shifts or positions in the time that they are not contracted to work.
The ONS says that 40% of people on zero hour contracts want more hours of work: we want to help them and others like them to find it, on balanced terms. We want inploi to be the end of the zero hour contract; the beginning of true flexibility. We’ve got no time for the exploitation of workers.
About the author: Matt de la Hey is co-founder & CEO of inploi.