A group of experts discuss zero-hour contracts in the first of a two-part article.

The following people took part: Kurt Janson, policy director, Tourism Alliance; Sarah Veale, head of equality and employment rights, TUC; and Tom Hadley, head of policy, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

One basic argument against zero-hour contracts is that the power lies with the employer, while the employee’s bargaining power is almost nil. Is it possible to have an agreement that is beneficial to both parties?

Kurt Janson: The tourism industry has had casual labourers for many years and it goes back well beyond zero-hour contracts. The idea was that there was no commitment on the part of the person being recruited that they had to take up the employment when it was offered, and no commitment on the employer to actually give the person a certain number of hours a week.

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