McDonald’s policy of asking workers if they want a zero hours contract or a guaranteed hours contract is ground-breaking.
Zero hours are standard practice in the restaurant industry, but McDonald’s is bucking the trend by offering its hourly paid employees a choice over whether they want to stay on a flexible contract or swap it for a guaranteed minimum hours contract, where they would retain all the terms and conditions that they had before. The move is ground-breaking in the business. We spoke to Dan Edwards, a shift manager at McDonald’s in Warrington, about the impact the policy has had on him.
When McDonald’s consulted employees on whether they wanted to switch from zero hours contracts to guaranteed hours contracts of four, 16 or 30 hours Dan was keen to make the change even though he had no problem getting his hours regularly on his previous contract. “It gives me extra security,” he says. “It means I have a fixed monthly income which can help with getting credit and things like mortgages.”
It also gives him peace of mind that if, for some reason, staff hours have to be reduced, he knows he can cover all his bills and doesn’t have to worry about picking up extra shifts because of insecurity about his earnings. Dan, who works the night shift, has never had his hours cut yet, but it is something he worries about.
Since the end of 2016 he has been on a guaranteed 30-hour contract which he supplements with extra hours to take him up to the hours he was working before. The contract was worked out based on the six weeks he had worked before he took it up.
Dan still has the same rights and benefits that he had before. He says he knows of several managers who have taken up guaranteed hours contracts, but fewer crew members. He adds that he has not seen any reduction in the flexibility he has as a result of the new contract.
Dan has two children, aged seven and three, and says his line manager is very supportive, ensuring that his shifts fit around his childcare responsibilities. “I was worried a little that I would lose flexibility when I first took up the contract, but that hasn’t been the case and as a parent having guaranteed hours act gives me a sense of security,” he says.