McDonald’s UK’s has defended its use of zero hours contracts and said that the majority of its employees are on  “flexible contracts”, which entitle them to all the benefits and rewards, and access to training and qualifications, of a permanent contract.

The fast food chain’s vice-president of people, Jez Langhorn told HR magazine: “We never have, and never will have, people sitting at home on standby waiting for the phone to ring. We spend a lot of time and money training our people, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to be at home with zero-hours.”

Langhorn put himself forward as an example of how the contracts work for McDonald’s staff.

He said: “When I first started at McDonald’s, at the age of 16, I wanted to work ten-hours a week and that is what I got given. Then when my exams came, I wanted two months off to study, and the flexible nature of my contract allowed this. After my exams I wanted full-time hours, and again the flexibility in my contract allowed me to work 40-hours a week.

“We do an annual staff survey to gauge thoughts on a whole host of different issues and one question we ask is around employee contracts. From a response rate of 90%, around 94% of our employees said they were happy with their hours and the flexibility of their contract.”