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Greene King Calls Time On Zero-Hours Contracts

The pub group has followed in the footsteps of J.D. Wetherspoon, McDonald's, and Sports Direct by offering to end zero-hours contracts for 16,000 members of staff.

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Pub group Greene King has followed in the footsteps of J.D. Wetherspoon, Sports Direct, and McDonald's in calling time on zero-hours contracts for staff who no longer want to be on the controversial arrangement.

Bosses at the chain told BuzzFeed News they are in discussions with around 16,000 staff regarding contracts inherited from a rival pub business called Spirit Group, which Greene King bought for £774 million last year.

A spokesperson said: “We do not have zero-hours contracts in Greene King pubs.

“Spirit Pub Company, which we acquired last year, does have legacy zero-hours contracts; we identified this as part of our due diligence and planned to remove them as part of the integration.

“We will be moving to minimum hours contracts for all colleagues in ex-Spirit pubs over the next year.”

Discussions are ongoing and it remains unclear what minimum number of hours staff at Spirit pubs, including Taylor Walker ones, will get or how many will take up the offer.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady welcomed the news and called on other employers to change their employment rules.

She said: "It's great to see yet another company ditching mandatory zero-hours contracts. Everyone deserves secure work, and knowing how much you'll have at the end of the week makes a real difference.

"It's clear that union campaigning against insecure contracts is paying off. Sports Direct and Wetherspoons have both made similar announcements in the past week."

BuzzFeed News revealed earlier this week that another pub chain, J.D. Wetherspoon, had offered its 24,000 staff on zero-hours contracts the option to move on to contracts that guarantee a set number of hours each week. Around 80% of staff took up the offer.

Zero-hours contracts have gained notoriety in recent years, with staff complaining that it leaves them at the mercy of management, who decide how many hours they will work.

Some have complained that it creates instability over how much money they will end up with each month and leaves them struggling to get credit cards or a mortgage, but some businesses have defended their use, saying they provide flexibility.

Sports Direct also revealed last week that it would offer guaranteed-hours contracts, with a minimum of 12 hours a week, to the 75% of its workforce on zero hours. Earlier this year McDonald's said it too had offered its casual staff new contracts, although due to its young workforce, only around 20% took up the offer.

However, despite the high-profile commitments from companies to end the practice, recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the number of workers in the UK on the contracts had soared 20% in the last year to nearly 1 million people.

The ONS said it believed part of the reason for the rise was that more employees had heard of zero-hours contracts.

Simon Neville is business editor at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.

Contact Simon Neville at simon.neville@buzzfeed.com.

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