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Reform Magazine | June 13, 2024

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I am... on a zero-hours contract - Reform Magazine

I am… on a zero-hours contract

A new, anonymous column for Reform

I am a nursery worker in the north of England. I work, and I am in poverty. I have worked at three different nurseries on zero-hours contracts. I usually hear on the Friday or Saturday what my hours will be for the following week. My experience of zero-hours contracts is that you are up and down all the time. You are always juggling things.

In term time, I would say I usually average about 20 hours a week. In school holidays, it can be 15 or less. When I was at my previous nursery, it went down and I was on jobseekers allowance for a couple of months, but then one week I went over 16 hours of work and had to sign off. It’s really diabolical the way people are treated. People who have not experienced it do not know what it is like. A lot of nurseries are the same, because the numbers of children go up and down and that affects the rota. Where I work, I don’t know if the managers are in the same position, but everybody else is on zero-hours.

I am on the minimum wage. I run an old car, and if that conks out, that’s it. I am single, I own the property I am in and don’t have any dependents. Ideally I need 30 hours a week, minimum. Then I could get working tax credits, but I cannot get that.

The government say you can do more than one zero-hours contract but it’s not possible unless you work at weekends for one of them, or in the evenings, as shifts clash. And it’s hard to find things on a weekend, especially locally. …

‘I am…’ is a new, anonymous column


This is an extract from an article that was published in the September 2017 edition of  Reform

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