• Home
  • News
  • Business
  • Zero hours contracts hit 1.8 million high

Zero hours contracts hit 1.8 million high

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


Scroll down to read more

Businesses in the UK used 1.8 million zero hours contracts at the height of last summer, according to official figures from The Labour Force Survey, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The survey showed that 1.8 million contracts that do not guarantee work were being utilised by UK firms during August 2014, up from a 1.4 million estimate published in January 2014. However, the ONS states that as a result of the number of seasonal industries using these contracts that a direct comparison is difficult to make.

Additional data from the ONS reveals that 697,000 workers said they were employed on a zero-hours basis for their main job between October to December last year, which makes up 2.3 percent of all people in employment.

On average, a worker on a zero hours contract usually works 25 hours a week, the ONS said, with around a third wanting more, compared with 10 percent of those in fixed-hour employment. Additionally, the majority of those workers were women and students, often aged under 25 or over 65.

"Zero-hours contracts sum up what has gone wrong in the modern workplace. They shift almost all power from the worker and give it to their boss,” said TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady. “Anyone on such a contract has no guarantee of any work from one day to another. Put a foot wrong, and you can find yourself with little or no work.”

O’Grady added: “Employers often argue that they offer flexibility, but trying telling that to zero-hours workers who can’t get a mortgage or pay their rent. In many sectors, zero-hours contracts are used to drive down costs regardless of the impact on services and the workforce.”

Office for National Statistics