The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Richer Sounds boss to fund zero-hours legal battles

- By Neil Craven

ONE of Britain’s most highly regarded businessma­n is helping fund legal challenges by workers who feel forced to accept zero-hour contracts.

Multimilli­onare Julian Richer, founder of hi-fi shop chain Richer Sounds, is calling for an end to the arrangemen­ts, which he says leave desperate workers ‘on a leash’.

Richer, who two years ago handed most of his company to staff, said he is bankrollin­g a campaign that will fund legal challenges to so-called zerohour contracts that oblige workers to be on call for work but do not guarantee any hours.

He plans to press his concerns with other firms and with MPs across the political spectrum. ‘I hate to think of people at the end of a leash on a daily basis in a similar way to the dockers standing on the quayside 100 years ago,’ Richer told the MoS. ‘If a zero-hours contract is freely entered into by an employee, then it’s fine. It’s not OK if you agree to it just because you are desperate for work.’

Richer drew a distinctio­n between binding zero-hours contracts and the wider gig economy, which enables workers to operate at multiple firms and at times they want.

He has become increasing­ly concerned about some of Britain’s poorest workers and contracts that enable bad bosses to exploit them. He said he has already received broad support from firms worried that ‘the bad guys make the good guys look bad’.

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