Zero Hour Contracts on the Rise

The number of people on zero hour contracts is on the rise.

Love them or loathe them, these contracts that do not guarantee workers a minimum number of hours now account for 2.9% of people employed.

According to the latest statistics by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 903,000 individuals reported that they were employed on a zero hour contract in their main job during the period from April to June 2016. This represents an increase of 21% from the same period in 2015.

ONS estimates show zero hour contracts are becoming more common in the accommodation, food, health, social work, transport, retail, wholesale and education sectors. However, they are only marginally used by employers in the public administration and construction industries. 40% of companies with more than 250 employees are using zero hour contracts with no guaranteed hours, compared to only 10% of companies with fewer than 10 employees.

In recent years, the use of these controversial contracts has been hitting the headlines over the fine balance between job security and flexibility.

National sportswear retailer, Sports Direct, has faced criticism over its strict working practices and treatment of workers, especially by widely using zero hour contracts. It recently announced it would offer shop staff on zero hour contracts a minimum contract of 12 hours a week, which is in line with other large retailers. However, this option will not be offered to the 4,000 agency workers in Sports Direct’s warehouse.

JD Wetherspoon, the large pub chain, has also announced that it will offer permanent hours to its 24,000 staff members on zero hour contracts. Its trial earlier this year proved so successful with its workers that it will roll out the scheme UK- wide.

Prime Minister, Theresa May, expressed concerns about job security in her maiden speech and has suggested that she will take action to restrain zero hour contracts in her government programme.

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