This paper examines the conditions under which annual hours (AH) are likely to succeed or fail and the role of workplace partnership in delivering mutual gains. We explore two case studies, in one company with a positive experience and in a second where AH were regarded as a failed initiative. The case studies are constructed from interviews with trade union and management representatives in the companies involved; from secondary sources and from a worker survey. The findings echo previous research that AH can deliver mutual gains in both the presence and absence of workplace partnership (Author and Author, 2016) and that delivery of real mutual gains is the key driver of the long term viability of AH. However, the balance of mutual gains is subject to change and is strongly influenced by structural factors determining the suitability of AH to the particular enterprise.
The rise in zero hours contracts in liberal market economies (LMEs) has recently received much attention with calls for regulation to protect workers. LMEs typically adopt flexible labour market policies that are less regulated than coordinated market economies (CMEs) as a competitive advantage. In this paper we examine nuanced differences in the nature and regulation of zero hours work in the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland. With an increased diffusion of zero hours work in both countries, we examine the different responses taken by these similar LMEs to this contemporary employment issue. We examine whether, as expected in an LME context, there is weak regulation in both countries and the factors influencing this. We find subtle but important differences between regulations of zero hours contracts. We conclude by discussing the possible implications of the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) (Brexit) for the regulation of precarious work.