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Zero hours contracts up by 21 per cent in a year

HR News |  12/09/2016
A total of 903,000 workers in the UK are employed on so-called ‘zero hours contracts’ in their main jobs, which is up 21 per cent in the last year, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published its most recent Labour Force Survey (LFS), which revealed that the figures for April to June 2016 represented 156,000 more people than were employed on these terms in the same period last year.

In a release, the ONS said that in recent years, increases in the number of people reporting to the survey that they were on a these contracts were likely to have been affected by greater awareness and recognition of the term 'zero hours contract'.

According to the ONS, people on these contracts are more likely to be young, part-time workers, women and in full-time education compared to other people in employment.

On average, someone on a zero hours contract usually works 25 hours a week. Around one in three people (31 per cent) on this type of work deal told the LFS that they want more hours, with most wanting them in their current job, as opposed to a different job which offers more hours.

This is in comparison to a total of ten per cent of other people in employment who wanted more hours.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has previously called zero hours contracts “a nightmare for workers”.

She said: “Many people on zero hours contracts are unable to plan for their future and regularly struggle with paying bills and having a decent family life.

"The so-called ‘flexibility’ these contracts offer is far too one-sided. Staff without guaranteed pay have much less power to stand up for their rights and often feel afraid to turn down shifts in case they fall out of favour with their boss.”

Ms O’Grady’s comments contrast with research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which showed that on average, zero hours contract employees experience similar levels of job satisfaction, work-life balance and personal well-being to employees on permanent full-time contracts.

By John Lynes

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