Zero hours contracts – flexibility or insecurity?

A recent Work Foundation Report exploring the rise in zero hours contracts called ‘Flexibility or Insecurity?’  has called for a systematic investigation into zero hours contracts (ZHC).

Some of the findings were:

  • Just under 18% of those on ZHCs said they were looking for alternative employment, compared with 7% of all employees.
  • 60% of care-workers were on ZHCs in 2011-2012 compared with about 50% in 2008-2009.
  • A significant share of those on ZHCs (43%) are in the top three occupational groups (managers, professionals and associate/technical staff). A fifth (17%) were manual skilled or semi-skilled jobs and just under another fifth (17%) were care, leisure or sales jobs.
  • 44% had remained for two years or more with the same employer and 25% for five years or more; 75% had been in a job for more than two years.
  • 75% of those on ZHCs say their hours vary each week, compared to 40% of employees not on ZHCs.
  • A CIPD survey found that 19% of employers were using them in July 2013. This is much higher than the estimate from the 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Survey which suggested they were in just 8% of workplaces.

Sampson Low, UNISON head of policy, said: “This report confirms we need an urgent and official review by government of the expansion of zero hours contracts. The current informal review by business secretary Vince Cable MP is inadequate. A wide range of UNISON members are telling us about the uncertainty and problems these contracts bring and too often these jobs should be permanent with minimum hours and full employment rights.” UNISON has produced a zero hours factsheet [PDF].

Source: UNISON website