Eden Project uses contentious zero-hours contracts
SIR Tim Smit has confirmed the Eden Project uses controversial zero-hour contracts – describing them as "glorified slavery" in some circumstances.
While these contracts meet the terms of the Employment Rights Act 1996 by providing a written statement of the terms and conditions of employment, they are more of an on-call arrangement.
No number of working hours is specified, which means the employer does not have to provide the employee with work, and the employee is not obliged to accept any.
Zero-hour contracts have seen a lot of national media attention in recent weeks.
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Although they can suit people who can be entirely flexible about when they work, critics say they can be used as a tool to reward or reprimand employees, and raise questions about how workers can assert their employment rights.
"Personally and collectively, we're not massively excited to have to use them," Sir Tim told the Cornish Guardian. "We understand in certain circumstances they can be a form of glorified slavery.
"Although we have them, we've always ensured they don't prevent our colleagues, if they have the opportunity to work elsewhere, doing that.
"Many of our colleagues actually like zero-hour contracts because they like the freedom to work when they have spare time rather than being employed 40 hours a week.
"The honest answer is that we don't like it but it provides a flexibility which is better than not having a job."
Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, said: "The vast majority of workers are only on these contracts because they have no choice. They may give flexibility to a few, but the balance of power favours the employers and makes it hard for workers to complain."