1.4 million “zero-hours contracts”


Figures released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have shown a modest increase in the number of “zero-hours contracts” in the UK. The bi-annual statistics are based on a survey of businesses the latest of which indicated that in April - June 2015 around 2.4% of those in employment did not have a guaranteed minimum number of hours.

Zero-hours contracts have proven increasingly controversial in recent years with many suggesting that the practice harms those on low pay. A spokesperson from ONS commented, “People on “zero-hours contracts” are more likely to be women, in full-time education or in young or older age groups when compared with other people in employment. On average, someone on a “zero-hours contract” usually works 25 hours a week. Around 40% of people on a “zero-hours contract” wanted more hours, with most wanting them in their current job, rather than in a different or additional job.”
The news will be greeted by dismay from those campaigning for employers to offer more stability to lower paid staff, however it was suggested that the year on year increase may be a result of greater awareness. “These latest results from the business survey can be compared with those for January 2014, published in April last year. Such comparisons provide, for the first time, an indication of the change in the number of [zero-hours contracts] over a one year period. This latest estimate… is some 91,000 higher than the 1.4 million estimate for January 2014, an increase of 6%, though the increase is not statistically significant... responses to the survey could be affected by changes in employers’ reporting behaviour.” In addition to the number is likely to be inflated due to significant amount of individuals working under such contracts for more than one employer.
The figures also reveal a slight decrease from statistics revealed late last year with ONS commented, “This figure should not be directly compared with the last published estimate (1.8 million for the fortnight beginning 11 August 2014) to imply a decrease. It covers a different time of year and so differences in the number of such contracts reported may reflect seasonal factors.”

The figures are available on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website