According to new data from the Office for National Statistics, the number of UK workers on zero hour contracts has risen by 21%.
A zero-hour contract is a work agreement with no guarantee of work hours.
It is estimated that over 900,000 people were employed on zero-hour contracts between April and June 2016 (Labour Force Survey). This represents 2.9% of all people in employment.
Nick Palmer from the ONS said, “The estimated number of people saying they work on a zero-hours contract has risen by over 20 per cent since the same time last year. It is likely though that some of the increase we are seeing is because public awareness of the term ‘zero-hours contract’ has continued to grow.”
Commenting on the figures, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said, “Zero-hours contracts have become an easy way for bosses to employ staff on the cheap. There is no getting away from the fact that zero-hours workers earn less money and have fewer rights than people with permanent jobs.
He also stated that “it is very easy for politicians and employers to talk about the ‘flexibility’ these contracts offer. But they are not the ones living at the sharp end of the labour market”
On the other hand, it could be said that whilst zero-hour contracts create an irregularity in one’s daily/weekly life, its flexible nature is particularly attractive where the demand for work is seasonal. It is therefore somewhat unsurprising that this beneficial work agreement (perhaps, if being cynical, mainly for employers) is on the rise.