Zero hours contracts can be beneficial to security industry

Trevor Elliott - BSIA Director of Manpower & Membership Services

Trevor Elliott – BSIA Director of Manpower & Membership Services

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) claims the controversial practice of zero hours contracts provides a valuable service to the security industry.

Security industry professionals have spoken out in defence of zero hours contracts, with almost 80 per cent of BSIA members agreeing with the concept, despite the Government’s recent pledge to review such arrangements following pressure from unions.

The BSIA – the trade body representing the UK’s private security industry – conducted a survey of those sections of its membership which deliver people-based security solutions, including security guarding, door supervision, crowd management, cash-in-transit and close protection. 79.2 per cent of members agreed with the concept of zero hours contracts, citing increased flexibility and the ability to meet unexpected demand as the two key benefits of such agreements.

According to recent reports by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, more than a million UK workers are on zero hours contracts, which offer no guarantees of shifts or work patterns, causing many unions to call for a ban on such arrangements and prompting the Government’s Business Secretary, Vince Cable, to pledge a full-scale review.

With 73.9 per cent of respondents to the BSIA’s survey also indicating that the currently employ staff on zero hours contracts, the Association is eager to defend their use within the security sector.

Trevor Elliott, Director of Manpower and Membership Services at the BSIA, said it was important to emphasise that zero hours contracts can benefit employees and employers “where they are correctly managed”.

“The ability to have employees available at short notice to meet customer demand is valuable to the security industry,” he said.

“In most sectors of the security industry, there will be high level demand for short term commitments which can only be met through a highly flexible workforce. In the regulated industry that we work in, it is impossible to provide fully vetted and licensed officers at short notice and in all instances, without the flexibility provided by the use of zero hour contracts.”

Photo of security officers (2)However, Elliott said it was unrealistic for staff to agree to zero hours contracts with exclusivity clauses in them, stating: “There must be genuine opportunities for individuals to seek employment elsewhere when appropriate.”

Elliott added: “It’s equally as important to acknowledge that where these contracts are poorly managed, they may have a detrimental effect. Potential negatives highlighted by our survey included lack of stability for employees and a degree of ambiguity in terms of what is expected from both employer and employee. As such, we will look forward to the results of the Government’s review and stand prepared to defend security sector employers and their employees, to ensure that they are not negatively affected by the actions of unscrupulous employers.”

For more information about the BSIA and its work representing the UK’s private security sector, visit

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