Rising insecurity at work as zero hours contracts jump 111,000

2.3 per cent of people in employment surveyed between October and December 2014 were on a zero-hours contract


Almost 700,000 people said their main employment was on a zero-hours contract, a jump of 111,000 on the previous year, according to a report out today.

The analysis of zero-hours contracts from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 2.3 per cent of people in employment surveyed between October and December 2014 were on a zero-hours contract, up from 1.3 per cent over the same period the year before.

The survey of businesses found that there were around 1.8 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours where work was carried out in the two weeks beginning 11 August 2014.

A person on a zero hours contract worked on average 25 hours a week, according to the survey. However a third of those on a zero hours contract (34 per cent) wanted more hours, compared with just one in 10 (10 per cent) of those in other employment.

Those on zero-hours contracts were more likely to be women, in full-time education or under-25 or 65 and over.

Commenting on the figures, Labour’s shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said:

“The Tories’ plan is failing working families. While they prioritise a few at the top, for others there’s a rising tide of insecurity. Ministers have watered down every person’s rights at work and zero-hours contracts have gone from being a niche concept to becoming the norm in parts of our economy. The ONS’ findings today that there are now 1.8 million zero hours contracts and that the number of people reporting they are on a zero-hours contract for their main job has risen by almost 20 per cent is yet another stark illustration of a recovery which is not working for working people.”

“Labour’s Better Plan for Britain’s Prosperity would ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, prohibit employers from requiring workers to be available on the off chance they are needed, ensure zero-hours contract workers who have shifts cancelled at short notice receive compensation and give employees who consistently work regular hours the right to a fixed-hours contract. Ministers have sat on their hands and opposed our plans, in the face of rising insecurity for people. Only Labour will deliver a recovery that works for all, restoring security and dignity at work.”

Zero hours contracts are most heavily concentrated in industries with low average wages, such as accomodation, food and retail (HT: New Policy Institute).

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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