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Cathedrals respond to zero-hour contracts revelations

Fri 14 Sep 2018
By Alex Williams

Bosses at two English cathedrals are defending their commitment to staff welfare after it emerged they have been advertising vacancies which include zero-hour contracts.

The practise of hiring workers on the basis they receive no guaranteed working hours came under a spotlight this week when the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested it was "evil".

But revelations both Gloucester Cathedral (pictured above) and Norwich Cathedrals use such agreements prompted a call for Most Rev Justin Welby to "put his own house in order" before criticising other employers.

 

Norwich Cathedral (pictured) was seeking a refectory assistant in an online advertisement which described the role as a "casual zero-hours post".

The Dean of Norwich, Very Revd Jane Hedges, said: "At Norwich Cathedral, zero-hour contracts are given to those of our staff who choose them because it suits their lifestyle like, for example, students and people who are retired and want a flexible part-time job.

"We take the welfare and wellbeing of our staff very seriously."

Zero-hour contracts have been criticised for offering staff poor job security and fewer benefits than other types of employment. Some workers prefer the extra flexibility such agreements provide.

Wikimedia Commons

 

Addressing the TUC Congress in Manchester on Wednesday, Archbishop Justin described the so-called gig economy and zero-hour contracts as "the reincarnation of an ancient evil".

Gloucester Cathedral has been advertising for a porter to work on a zero-hour contact during the evenings and at weekends.

A spokesperson told Premier: "Gloucester Cathedral sometimes uses zero-hour contracts to employ people on an ad hoc basis to carry out occasional tasks, for example helping to set up for events.

"We take our responsibilities as an employer seriously and are committed to paying the living wage."

A study published by University College London last summer found young adults employed on zero-hour contracts are less likely to be in good health, and are at higher risk of poor mental health than workers in more stable jobs.

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