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CAB - Line managers need better understanding of flexible work entitlements

Employers must ensure line managers of people on non-traditional contracts properly understand their staff’s entitlements, says Citizens Advice.

In a report out, the charity finds that while some employers have guidelines and procedures in place to support staff on non-traditional contracts, such as zero hour or fixed-hours plus, the benefit of these doesn’t always filter down to frontline workers.

In its new report, Out of hours, Citizens Advice explores what motivates people to take on non-traditional contracts and the impact it can have on their lives. It finds people on these contracts often feel a lack of control and agency at work and can face barriers to using their entitlements. This can have a negative impact on their commitment to their employers as well as on their wellbeing at work.

The report highlights key areas where people on non-traditional contracts are at risk of losing their sense of agency at work:

  • Poorly designed contracts and the mismatch between contracts and hours worked;

  • Unsympathetic shift and rota management, with last minute changes to hours;

  • Poorly informed line managers;

  • Low knowledge of entitlements or false assumptions about these;

  • Lack of confidence in suing entitlements.

During research for the report Citizens Advice did find example of good practice. Out of hours highlights lessons to be learned from employers who use non-traditional contracts in an appropriate, proportionate and responsible  manner, and do their utmost to ensure that their employees do not suffer unnecessary detriment as a result of their need for a flexible workforce.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Responsible workplace policies mean nothing if staff don’t feel the benefit.

“With the continued rise of flexible working it’s more important than ever to ensure that managers and employees are better educated about the entitlements of people on non-traditional contracts.

“Employers must ensure line managers fully understand what entitlements their staff have, such as around holiday and sick pay. And simple things like a well organised shift or rota system can make a huge difference people, allowing them to plan their home life as well as budget according to how much they will earn that week or month.”

Earlier this year research by the charity found that three quarters  of Citizens Advice staff and volunteers feel that clients are more likely to have fluctuating hours or shift patterns than twelve months earlier.

Citizens Advice sees many people with non-traditional contracts every year. Often they come need help with their entitlements to holiday, maternity or sick pay. The number of those coming to us with these issues has increased rapidly, and in the last year Citizens Advice helped people with over 31,000 holiday and sick leave or sick pay queries. These figures reflect the difficulty involved in understanding and using these rights, especially when the contracts are non-traditional.

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
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