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Blog  »  September 2015  »  Zero-hours Contracts up by 19% - Blog
Sep 15

Posted by
Debbie Clarke

Zero-hours Contracts up by 19%

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the number of workers on zero-hours contracts has increased by 19% from 624,000 to 744,000, a fifth in the last year alone,

A zero-hour contract is an employment contract that an employee has that has no set minimum hours or definite schedule of work. It allows employers to hire employees with no guarantee of work. Employees under these contracts tend to have to be very flexible and are expected to be "on call" and are only compensated for actual hours worked.

The main types of people on zero- hours contracts are single parents, students, people under 25 and over 65 and women compared to other employed staff. The main sectors offering zero-hours contracts are:

 - Tourism and hospitality sector
 - Health sector
 - Education sector

Zero-hours contracts are often considered controversial as these types of contracts do not offer enough financial stability or security. Employers could also abuse these type of contracts by offering more hours to favoured employees and fewer hours to those less valued employees. A refusal to work at any one time may result in a prolonged period of lack of work. Employees under zero-hours contracts also do not have the same employment rights as employees on traditional contracts. They only have basic social security rights such as maternity/paternity benefit, holiday pay and health insurance. Should an employee earn less than £5,772 in the tax year, they will not receive any credits for the state pension.

Research shows that workers on zero-hours contracts earn less per hour than employees in similar positions. A study by the TUC in December 2014 showed the average weekly earnings for such employees were £188 in comparison with permanent employees earning £479. The average person on a zero-hours contract typically works on average 25 hours per week. The ONS found that 40% of those on zero-hours contracts wanted to work more hours than they are offered.

Zero-hours contracts do offer flexibility for certain employees. Mark Littlewood, the Institute of Economic Affairs' director general has said "Not everyone is able to work at fixed and regular times and adaptable contracts such as these offer the opportunity of employment to students, single parents and many more".

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Posted in Contract of employment, Employment Contract


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