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Jobseekers told to take zero hour contracts or lose benefits


Jobseekers have been told they could face losing their benefits for up to three months if they turn down zero-hour contract jobs.

Until recently people have been able to refuse such jobs without being penalised. However, as the new ‘universal credit system’ is rolled out, people will have to accept casual contracts or face losing their benefits.

A zero-hour contract essentially allows an employer to hire staff but not guarantee them any work. This means overheads can be more effectively controlled dependent on how busy they are at the time.

These contracts have come under fire from critics who claim that workers are often left with little to no financial stability or security due to a lack of work.

Automatic Adjustments

The government claimed that whilst the average zero-hour contract provides around 25 hours of work per week, those who do not get enough work will still be supported.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said that when workers do not get the hours they need, the ‘universal credit system’ will be automatically adjusted to ensure support is provided.

The spokesperson said: "Universal credit payments will adjust automatically depending on the hours a person works to ensure that people whose hours may change are financially supported and do not face the hassle and bureaucracy of switching their benefit claims.”

However, this was criticised by Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves. She said that “exploitative use” of zero-hour contracts needed to be “cracked down on”.

She also said that a person “shouldn’t be forced into taking a job” and that the government needed to clarify “who exactly is at risk of losing benefits for refusing to take a zero-hours contract job”.

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