Wetherspoons offers zero-hours staff guaranteed work

Pub chairman Tim Martin says fixed-hour contracts will extend to workers in Ireland

 Chairman of Wetherspoons pub chain Tim Martin: “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,”  Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Chairman of Wetherspoons pub chain Tim Martin: “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,” Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

 

The push back against zero hours contracts continues with news that leading Brexit campaigner Tim Martin has offered staff at his Wetherspoons pub chain the option of guaranteed hours contracts.

A spokesman for the group said that any change to contracts will be rolled out across the full group, including its Irish outlets.

Wetherspoons entered the Irish market in 2013 with ambitious plans for up to 30 outlets in the State. However, the rapid increase in commercial property prices and planning hold-ups have so far limited it to five pubs in the Republic.

The Wetherspoons move follows similar steps taken by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, where work practices have come under close review in the UK, and by fast food restaurant chain McDonald’s.

Martin, who founded the group in 1979 and remains chairman, said the decision, which will affect up to 24,000 staff in Britain and Ireland, followed a trial carried out earlier this year in a group of its pubs.

Pilot project

The pilot project saw around two-thirds of staff on zero-hours contracts opt to to move to a fixed-hour deal that offers guaranteed hours amounting to around 70 per cent of their normal weekly hours.

“In spite of me saying there’s no advantage with them, we’ve had quite a good take-up of 70 to 80 per cent,” said Martin, who said the issue was never raised with him in staff discussions over the years.

In Ireland, zero hours contract workers do have certain protection. Under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, they are entitled to compensation generally amounting to at least a quarter of their hours if they are left very short in any given week. However, the rules do not apply to casual jobs which cover many of those – especially students – in zero hours jobs in pubs and restaurants.

“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,” said Martin.

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