District employment lawyer defends zero hours contracts citing need for ‘flexibility’

WARNING: Wyre Forest employment lawyer Sally Morris.

WARNING: Wyre Forest employment lawyer Sally Morris.

First published in News Kidderminster Shuttle: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

AN EMPLOYMENT lawyer based in Wyre Forest is urging the Government to stand its ground amid mounting criticism of “zero-hours contracts”.

Sally Morris said they provided much-needed flexibility for businesses and their staff in what, she said, remained a “volatile market and a fragile economic recovery”.

Ms Morris, partner and head of employment at law firm Mfg Solicitors, defended zero hours contracts as business secretary Vince Cable considers a proposal to let workers request permanent contracts from their employers.

She believes employers would have nothing to fear from the changes in their present form but warned going further and forcing bosses to grant those requests could wreck any recovery.

Zero hours contracts allow employers to take on staff with no guarantee of work.

But Ms Morris said they had their place, adding: “Employers in certain industries need staff to be available when they have the work. If they have someone on the books with the skills and experience to do the job as and when it comes up, that means the worker can be paid and the employer is able to win more business by keeping overheads low.

“Of course most people would rather know exactly when they are going to be in work and that is why Vince Cable is looking at giving them the right to request a permanent contract. Critics of zero hours would say he should go further and give them the right to be granted permanent contracts. That would be a mistake.

“As it stands employers wouldn’t be obliged to provide a permanent contract, just to consider the request. Business owners here in Wyre Forest and the West Midlands should not feel pressured or ashamed about the use of a perfectly reasonable arrangement for employing workers on an ad hoc basis.”

“The economy is growing again but it is a fragile recovery. Forcing employers to pay for staff they don’t need will mean cost cutting and redundancies or would stop them from trying to take on business in the first place, meaning queues at job centres do not get smaller.

“In a world of 24-hour shopping, online transactions and exports all over the world to buyers in completely different time zones, the nine to five, Monday to Friday working environment is becoming a thing of the past.

“Demand can be unpredictable. Employers need a degree of flexibility as to who they employ and when. For most workers, if it is a case of having a zero hours contract or no employment at all, the choice is obvious.”

What do you think? Visit us online at kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/yoursay

Comments (21)

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8:53am Fri 30 May 14

stour67 says...

And how may I ask are you suppose to get a mortgage when the self cert 1s are no more typical i aright jack t Tory voter.Maybe she should try it before commenting on a situation she's not been in and probably never will.
And how may I ask are you suppose to get a mortgage when the self cert 1s are no more typical i aright jack t Tory voter.Maybe she should try it before commenting on a situation she's not been in and probably never will. stour67
  • Score: 13

1:31pm Fri 30 May 14

Shibdrift says...

"Ms Morris, partner and head of employment at law firm Mfg Solicitors"

I've read some rubbish in this paper, but this dross really takes the biscuit.
"Ms Morris, partner and head of employment at law firm Mfg Solicitors" I've read some rubbish in this paper, but this dross really takes the biscuit. Shibdrift
  • Score: 18

1:40pm Fri 30 May 14

KiddyGeek says...

Signing on is deliberately made annoying and sanctions punitive so people are forced into these jobs so the government can make a big fuss about how 'unemployment is down', while conveniently not mentioning how most of the people either signed off or were forced onto these contracts.

Good for government but rubbish for the poor people. That's the Tories all over really.
Signing on is deliberately made annoying and sanctions punitive so people are forced into these jobs so the government can make a big fuss about how 'unemployment is down', while conveniently not mentioning how most of the people either signed off or were forced onto these contracts. Good for government but rubbish for the poor people. That's the Tories all over really. KiddyGeek
  • Score: 16

2:48pm Fri 30 May 14

Nigel Gilbert says...

These comments are shocking. We need to know whether they are her own views or those of mfg - if the latter, then this suggests that as employment solicitors mfg speak for the employers. Those facing zero hours contracts cannot buy or rent a house or a car, or even imagine holding a family together. Sally Morris has no such worries. I do agree that the recovery is fragile. In fact there is no recovery, and there will be no recovery under capitalism with or without zero hour contracts.
These comments are shocking. We need to know whether they are her own views or those of mfg - if the latter, then this suggests that as employment solicitors mfg speak for the employers. Those facing zero hours contracts cannot buy or rent a house or a car, or even imagine holding a family together. Sally Morris has no such worries. I do agree that the recovery is fragile. In fact there is no recovery, and there will be no recovery under capitalism with or without zero hour contracts. Nigel Gilbert
  • Score: 13

2:49pm Fri 30 May 14

Jerome K says...

Oh don't be so negative boys! Without zero hours contracts workers won't become trapped in a succession of short-term, low quality jobs with inadequate social protection. Just think, the bosses might have to start paying sick pay and for annual leave, and where's their next £80,000 Range Rover going to come from then, eh?

On the plus side, on the next glossy edition of Worcestershire Social Climbing Monthly I think we have a clear winner for Christian of the week, step forward the lovely Ms Morris ;-)
Oh don't be so negative boys! Without zero hours contracts workers won't become trapped in a succession of short-term, low quality jobs with inadequate social protection. Just think, the bosses might have to start paying sick pay and for annual leave, and where's their next £80,000 Range Rover going to come from then, eh? On the plus side, on the next glossy edition of Worcestershire Social Climbing Monthly I think we have a clear winner for Christian of the week, step forward the lovely Ms Morris ;-) Jerome K
  • Score: 14

3:08pm Fri 30 May 14

SOS lad says...

She would soon change her tune if she was on a zero hour contract, why do you you think we have food banks, rip off pay day lending.
She would soon change her tune if she was on a zero hour contract, why do you you think we have food banks, rip off pay day lending. SOS lad
  • Score: 15

5:01pm Fri 30 May 14

emjaypee says...

There speaks someone who has no idea of low income poverty. I bet she would not last very long on a zero hours contract. No doubt she worked hard to qualify for her career. But it has a touch of the Marie Antoinette.
There speaks someone who has no idea of low income poverty. I bet she would not last very long on a zero hours contract. No doubt she worked hard to qualify for her career. But it has a touch of the Marie Antoinette. emjaypee
  • Score: 12

5:11pm Fri 30 May 14

the batshake says...

****
**** the batshake
  • Score: 7

5:30pm Fri 30 May 14

Stephen Brown says...

Just who is Ms Morris speaking on behalf of and how many of MFG's clients would be upset by this article if they knew its attitude towards what may actually be some of their clients?

I bet Ms Morris is not on a zero hour contract and neither does she suffer the uncertainty of knowing whether she will have work next week and the problems that will bring like affording to feed her and her family, pay the bills or even know if they can pay the rent/mortgage. I wonder what her hourly wage is? Likely her hourly wage may be close to what some low-waged folks earn in a week.

Right now it's all one way traffic - zero hours, under-employment, part-time contracts, worker 'flexibility' and real-terms reductions in wages etc all at a time when the wealth gap between rich and poor is growing to a level not seen since before world war 2. Keeping the rich rich is what this is all about. But hang on, we should be, if you listen to what some right wing pundits and apologists like Ms Morris say, be somehow grateful for all of that and the so called 'recovery' and 24 hour world we live in which excuses it all.

Talk about championing a charter to treat working people like dirt.

Some might say 'what recovery?' and with good reason. There are those sitting at the top who've never had it so good, want to keep it that way, and all this 'flexibility' in the labour market will help ensure they keep their perch at the top of the pile.

Ultimately, I still think it is up to workers to organise and unionise if there is to be any long-term stability and security in their employment contracts. Laws are made to keep the top at the top, and until working people organise again like we did in the past, the answers won't lie in politicians laws to defend us, or employment lawyers earning vast sums from employers to keep us in our place.

IF Ms Morris wants to meddle in politics she should be open about it and say what her agenda is.
Just who is Ms Morris speaking on behalf of and how many of MFG's clients would be upset by this article if they knew its attitude towards what may actually be some of their clients? I bet Ms Morris is not on a zero hour contract and neither does she suffer the uncertainty of knowing whether she will have work next week and the problems that will bring like affording to feed her and her family, pay the bills or even know if they can pay the rent/mortgage. I wonder what her hourly wage is? Likely her hourly wage may be close to what some low-waged folks earn in a week. Right now it's all one way traffic - zero hours, under-employment, part-time contracts, worker 'flexibility' and real-terms reductions in wages etc all at a time when the wealth gap between rich and poor is growing to a level not seen since before world war 2. Keeping the rich rich is what this is all about. But hang on, we should be, if you listen to what some right wing pundits and apologists like Ms Morris say, be somehow grateful for all of that and the so called 'recovery' and 24 hour world we live in which excuses it all. Talk about championing a charter to treat working people like dirt. Some might say 'what recovery?' and with good reason. There are those sitting at the top who've never had it so good, want to keep it that way, and all this 'flexibility' in the labour market will help ensure they keep their perch at the top of the pile. Ultimately, I still think it is up to workers to organise and unionise if there is to be any long-term stability and security in their employment contracts. Laws are made to keep the top at the top, and until working people organise again like we did in the past, the answers won't lie in politicians laws to defend us, or employment lawyers earning vast sums from employers to keep us in our place. IF Ms Morris wants to meddle in politics she should be open about it and say what her agenda is. Stephen Brown
  • Score: 43

5:35pm Fri 30 May 14

emjaypee says...

Can anyone enlighten me as to when, and under which government, these zero hours came into force?
Can anyone enlighten me as to when, and under which government, these zero hours came into force? emjaypee
  • Score: 4

7:10pm Fri 30 May 14

Jerome K says...

John Major's Employment Rights Act 1996. Fortunately the next government brought in the National Minimum Wage Act which the Tories opposed. Until then workers on zero hour contracts often had to clock-off during quiet periods while staying on site so they could return to work if required. The National Minimum Wage Regulations, which the Tories opposed, now require employers to pay the national minimum wage to people for the time they are required to be at the workplace.

Now emjaypee, which Party wants to drastically reduce zero hours contracts & which Party thinks these exploitative contracts are a good thing?
John Major's Employment Rights Act 1996. Fortunately the next government brought in the National Minimum Wage Act which the Tories opposed. Until then workers on zero hour contracts often had to clock-off during quiet periods while staying on site so they could return to work if required. The National Minimum Wage Regulations, which the Tories opposed, now require employers to pay the national minimum wage to people for the time they are required to be at the workplace. Now emjaypee, which Party wants to drastically reduce zero hours contracts & which Party thinks these exploitative contracts are a good thing? Jerome K
  • Score: 7

8:35pm Fri 30 May 14

Stephen Brown says...

Sadly, Zero hour/casualised contracts have existed since well before 1996 in other guises and it's what workers organised against in order to increase job security. Up until the decline of unionised workplaces since the 1980s onwards, it was harder for employers to force such contracts on workers. Employers have simply worked a dodge under the 1996 Act to formalise them against a backdrop of falling trade union influence and economic warfare on the sections of society least able to organise and oppose them in times of so called austerity to increase profits, hence an explosion of zero hours contracts.

So, increasingly and wrongly in my opinion, workers look to the law to protect them in the absence of trade union organisation. Notably, many such 'protective' laws now come from the EU, except the contradiction is the EU also creates an environment for greater exploitation of workers with its pro-privatisation agenda and ability to ship jobs across borders. That's not a reason to abandon the EU but we should demand the EU works better for us, and be more accountable and balanced when making law so it's a level playing field.

In or out of the EU some political parties will seek to aid capitalism to exploit workers by demanding 'flexibility' of workers and reducing rights. Those parties are on the right and the further right you go the worse it will be for workers. Odd that some working people still ain't worked that bit out and vote for 'change' not realising they are actually voting for more of the same or in some cases.....something even worse. Not everything inside the tin is what it says on the tin lid.....
Sadly, Zero hour/casualised contracts have existed since well before 1996 in other guises and it's what workers organised against in order to increase job security. Up until the decline of unionised workplaces since the 1980s onwards, it was harder for employers to force such contracts on workers. Employers have simply worked a dodge under the 1996 Act to formalise them against a backdrop of falling trade union influence and economic warfare on the sections of society least able to organise and oppose them in times of so called austerity to increase profits, hence an explosion of zero hours contracts. So, increasingly and wrongly in my opinion, workers look to the law to protect them in the absence of trade union organisation. Notably, many such 'protective' laws now come from the EU, except the contradiction is the EU also creates an environment for greater exploitation of workers with its pro-privatisation agenda and ability to ship jobs across borders. That's not a reason to abandon the EU but we should demand the EU works better for us, and be more accountable and balanced when making law so it's a level playing field. In or out of the EU some political parties will seek to aid capitalism to exploit workers by demanding 'flexibility' of workers and reducing rights. Those parties are on the right and the further right you go the worse it will be for workers. Odd that some working people still ain't worked that bit out and vote for 'change' not realising they are actually voting for more of the same or in some cases.....something even worse. Not everything inside the tin is what it says on the tin lid..... Stephen Brown
  • Score: 30

9:53pm Fri 30 May 14

Jerome K says...

So actually before 1996, not surprising. Anyway the important thing is to try and get rid of them or at least reduce them so they don't become the accepted norm for working practices which i think they will if the Tories get back in.
Agreed about UKIP, amazing how many working people vote for a Party which is in effect an anti working class party. They’re only saying publicly what the Conservative Party privately thinks i.e that the poorest & most vulnerable are responsible for societies' ills, not the powerful which the Tories AND UKIP both represent.
So actually before 1996, not surprising. Anyway the important thing is to try and get rid of them or at least reduce them so they don't become the accepted norm for working practices which i think they will if the Tories get back in. Agreed about UKIP, amazing how many working people vote for a Party which is in effect an anti working class party. They’re only saying publicly what the Conservative Party privately thinks i.e that the poorest & most vulnerable are responsible for societies' ills, not the powerful which the Tories AND UKIP both represent. Jerome K
  • Score: 10

10:38pm Fri 30 May 14

Jerome K says...

Just looked at mfg Solicitors Twitterfeed, scary.....
Just looked at mfg Solicitors Twitterfeed, scary..... Jerome K
  • Score: 5

11:38pm Fri 30 May 14

BewdleyBugle says...

Have a go at zero hours contracts, by all means, but why the personal abuse? It seems clear from mfg's website that their employment law practice tends to represent employers, not employees. So she's doing her job. Quite why it's a headline story in the Shuttle, and not just a newsletter to her clients in absolutely beyond me. This is simply not news!
Have a go at zero hours contracts, by all means, but why the personal abuse? It seems clear from mfg's website that their employment law practice tends to represent employers, not employees. So she's doing her job. Quite why it's a headline story in the Shuttle, and not just a newsletter to her clients in absolutely beyond me. This is simply not news! BewdleyBugle
  • Score: -21

9:37am Sat 31 May 14

Jerome K says...

Ok. Next time someone's advocating exploitation of British people we'll just tug our forelocks & keep quiet as, hey, they're just doing their job. If you note the last lineof the article it says 'What do you think ? Visit us online at kidderminstershuttle
.co.uk/yoursay' So clearly designed to provoke & get a response from decent people. A bit like Katie Hopkins. That'sgood, it gets people alerted to negative forces in our society. How about the next one being companies who legally advise people how to avoid tax or loan sharks promoting exploitative pay day loans? Hey, don't criticise they're just doing their job. How about we then move on to immigrant gangmasters or even pimps? Hey, don't criticise they're just doing their job.
Welcome to C21st Rip Off Britain, where everyone knows their place, keep calm & carry on, don't question anything just be nice & watch your pay packet get smaller & smaller. Don't worry you can always blame foreigners but don't dare blame the people who are getting fatter & fatter at your expense, that's just not pucka. Roll over Bewdley style & yap like a Yorkshire Terrier yap, yap, yap, roll over, roll over.....
Ok. Next time someone's advocating exploitation of British people we'll just tug our forelocks & keep quiet as, hey, they're just doing their job. If you note the last lineof the article it says 'What do you think ? Visit us online at kidderminstershuttle .co.uk/yoursay' So clearly designed to provoke & get a response from decent people. A bit like Katie Hopkins. That'sgood, it gets people alerted to negative forces in our society. How about the next one being companies who legally advise people how to avoid tax or loan sharks promoting exploitative pay day loans? Hey, don't criticise they're just doing their job. How about we then move on to immigrant gangmasters or even pimps? Hey, don't criticise they're just doing their job. Welcome to C21st Rip Off Britain, where everyone knows their place, keep calm & carry on, don't question anything just be nice & watch your pay packet get smaller & smaller. Don't worry you can always blame foreigners but don't dare blame the people who are getting fatter & fatter at your expense, that's just not pucka. Roll over Bewdley style & yap like a Yorkshire Terrier yap, yap, yap, roll over, roll over..... Jerome K
  • Score: 8

4:19pm Sat 31 May 14

the batshake says...

Jerome K wrote:
Just looked at mfg Solicitors Twitterfeed, scary.....
Yep, mfg are loving this government. Sycophants.
[quote][p][bold]Jerome K[/bold] wrote: Just looked at mfg Solicitors Twitterfeed, scary.....[/p][/quote]Yep, mfg are loving this government. Sycophants. the batshake
  • Score: 3

9:44am Mon 2 Jun 14

BewdleyBugle says...

Jerome - thanks for so eloquently demonstrating my point.
Jerome - thanks for so eloquently demonstrating my point. BewdleyBugle
  • Score: -8

6:53pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Jerome K says...

You obviously haven't understood my post.
You obviously haven't understood my post. Jerome K
  • Score: 1

7:53pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Aquarius says...

BewdleyBugle wrote:
Have a go at zero hours contracts, by all means, but why the personal abuse? It seems clear from mfg's website that their employment law practice tends to represent employers, not employees. So she's doing her job. Quite why it's a headline story in the Shuttle, and not just a newsletter to her clients in absolutely beyond me. This is simply not news!
That was my line of thought to start with, but thinking about it a bit more, I'm not sure that it IS her job to be promoting Government policies. She is there to advise on all aspects of employment law and from her standpoints that she has expressed, I can imagine more than a few people could imagine her not being on their side in any sort of dispute. Whether they are zero hours staff or not.

I suspect Sally's beliefs are actually thinly disguised political views. Which is fine really. But she should be open and honest about it.

Incidentally I know people who are quite happy as zero hours workers. But many more who aren't. They have very few rights and there IS an element of exploitation. It is this sort of thing that should be legislated against - not zero hours work in itself. But I don't suppose Sally would go for that.!
[quote][p][bold]BewdleyBugle[/bold] wrote: Have a go at zero hours contracts, by all means, but why the personal abuse? It seems clear from mfg's website that their employment law practice tends to represent employers, not employees. So she's doing her job. Quite why it's a headline story in the Shuttle, and not just a newsletter to her clients in absolutely beyond me. This is simply not news![/p][/quote]That was my line of thought to start with, but thinking about it a bit more, I'm not sure that it IS her job to be promoting Government policies. She is there to advise on all aspects of employment law and from her standpoints that she has expressed, I can imagine more than a few people could imagine her not being on their side in any sort of dispute. Whether they are zero hours staff or not. I suspect Sally's beliefs are actually thinly disguised political views. Which is fine really. But she should be open and honest about it. Incidentally I know people who are quite happy as zero hours workers. But many more who aren't. They have very few rights and there IS an element of exploitation. It is this sort of thing that should be legislated against - not zero hours work in itself. But I don't suppose Sally would go for that.! Aquarius
  • Score: 8

7:55pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Aquarius says...

Incidentally, I suspect Sally is using the issue to gain a degree of personal and/or professional publicity.

Well done for allowing yourselves to be used for that, Shuttle!
Incidentally, I suspect Sally is using the issue to gain a degree of personal and/or professional publicity. Well done for allowing yourselves to be used for that, Shuttle! Aquarius
  • Score: 6

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