26 February 2015
Wednesday’s (26 February) ONS statistics showed the number of workers trapped on zero-hours contracts has now reached 1.8 million. Given the exploitative nature of the contracts, public sector employers are not doing enough to curb their use.
Zero-hours contracts became popular in the late 1980s and 90s, but it is in the last ten years that their popularity has really boomed – rising by 25% in 2012 alone. Increasingly, their use has extended to high skilled and white collar staff. Maternity rights, holiday and sick pay, job security and financial stability are becoming further out of reach for the majority of the UK workforce.
Responding to the statistics Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said:
“Zero-hours contracts became more popular during the recession when employers sought to keep a lid on their costs and people were so desperate they’d take any work they could get.
“But rather than see a decline in the use of these casual contracts as the economy improved, today’s figures show zero-hours working is booming. In fact this way of working has now become standard practice in the social care sector. This is bad news for social care workers and the people they care for.
“Spending cuts have admittedly made life tough for public sector employers, but they should be leading by example not ducking their commissioning responsibilities.
”Any local authority or NHS trust paying for services from local employers should be making sure that none of the successful bidders are exploiting zero-hours workers.”
For more information on zero-hours contracts, Re-regulating Zero Hours Contracts is available now.