Record number of workers now on zero-hours contracts

Almost a million workers were employed on zero-hours contracts at the end of 2019, according to new Office for National Statistics data.

21 Feb 2020| News

There were an extra 130,000 people on zero-hours contracts last year compared with 2018 – a rise of 15.4% that brought the total up to 974,000.

Speaking out about this growing trend, General Secretary of GMB, Tim Roache, said: “Companies are using zero-hours contracts as a business model to avoid their responsibilities to the people who make them their money – these figures show that’s on the rise.

“On a zero-hours contract you don’t know what wage you’ll have coming in from week to week, you don’t know if you can pay the bills or buy the shopping and you can’t say boo to a goose or you won’t get any hours the week after.”

The figures showed that young workers were particularly vulnerable to this form of insecure employment, with nearly one in ten (9.1%) of those aged under 25 taking on zero-hours contracts.

The Institute of Employment Rights recommends that new legislation is put forth to provide the same rights to everybody in employment from day one, thus providing zero-hours and other vulnerable workers with unfair dismissal protection along with other rights.

Further, employers should have a duty to prescribe a minimum number of hours of work on commencing the employment contract, effectively banning zero-hours work.