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Zero hour contracts on the rise


The number of workers on zero-hours contracts has increased to its highest ever level since figures were recorded, according to a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In late 2015, there were 801,000 workers whose main form of employment was on a zero-hour contract, which is an increase of 104,000 from the year before.

The increase in workers without any guaranteed hours now represents 2.5% of employees in the UK.

A zero-hour contract does not offer a guaranteed minimum number of hours, and the report said that there were 1.7 million of these contracts currently in place. This means that many workers have multiple jobs with zero-hour contracts, so that they can increase their chances of working.

Nick Palmer, a statistician at the ONS did concede that the rise in numbers could be partly due to a recognition of what a zero-hour contract is, meaning that more people are reporting this correctly.

However, Palmer also stated that there is no evidence to suggest that these contracts are on the decline.

‘Nightmare for workers’

Laura Gardner, of the Resolution Foundation also spoke out against this form of employment by stating that employees find it hard to budget their finances if they do not know how much money they will be earning.

Gardner continued to say that: "While zero-hours contracts still make up a comparatively small, albeit growing, part of the labour market, it is still crucial that policy makers consider the effect of unstable employment on both workers and the economy,"

The average worker on a zero-hour contract works 26 hours a week, meaning that they are considerably less likely to work what would be classed as ‘full-time’.

Additionally, around a third of those workers wanted to work more hours in their current job, in comparison to 10% of workers who are not on these contracts.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady labelled zero-hour contracts “a nightmare for workers”. She also said that "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."

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