Aug. 6 - Big employers in the UK have come under fire for so-called zero hours contracts. The government fears workers are being abused by the growing trend. As Joanne Nicholson reports recent research suggests more than a million people are working under contracts which don't promise any work.
Big firms, entirely different businesses, but now they have one thing in common. They employ staff in the UK on zero hours contracts. It's thought up to a million people could be working for firms that don't guarantee any regular employment or income It's a trend which is worrying the UK government and some of those on the contracts. 20,000 staff at Sports Direct reportedly have a zero hours contract Student George Martin is one of them. SOUNDBITE (English) GEORGE MARTIN, SPORTS DIRECT EMPLOYEE, SAYING: "I didn't work for the whole of January/ February because they said when they weren't hitting their weekly targets, they couldn't give the money out to the employees." Officially two and half million people are out of work in the UK - the number has been falling in recent months. But some are questioning whether zero hours contracts should count as full employment. Vince Cable is the Business Secretary SOUNDBITE (English) VINCE CABLE, UK BUSINESS SECREATRY, SAYING: "The government and business is trying to get flexibility in work, a lot of workers want to have flexible arrangements but we want to make absolutely sure that people are not exploited in what's recently been a weak labour market." It's the big players that have caught the media's attention, but for small businesses, it could be the only way to stay afloat. Ian Lesley runs an aerial photography company SOUNDBITE (English) IAN LESLEY, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: "If I don't get any income, I don't want to keep sitting there and paying out for people when I don't have any income myself." Unemployment is a massive problem across Europe Some economists say zero hours contracts are a necessary evil. Alistair Cotton is from Currencies Direct SOUNDBITE (English) ALISTAIR COTTON, FX ANALYST, CURRENCIES DIRECT, SAYING: "If they suddenly abolished zero huors contracts that would mean a lot of people out of work and I think going forward very negative in terms of sterling and the UK economy as a whole." Some unions want the contracts banned and the government is carrying out a review. But a recent survey shows just 14% of people with a zero hours deal say they don't get enough work and some actually welcome the flexibility. For now at least the contracts are here to stay /////