Over a million UK workers are on zero-hours contracts

Research has suggested that more than a million UK workers are on zero-hours contracts with no guarantees of shifts or work patterns, which is four times official estimates. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development recently carried out a survey of 1,000 employers which indicated 3-4% of the whole workforce were on zero-hours contracts. 14% of affected staff could not earn a basic standard of living. Business Secretary Vince Cable is already reviewing these types of contracts, amid union calls to ban them. However, despite their controversy, just 16% of those affected said their employer failed to provide them with sufficient hours each week. Under zero-hours contracts employees agree to be available for work as and when it is required. Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, said: “The vast majority of workers are only on these contracts because they have no choice. They may give flexibility to a few, but the balance of power favours the employers and makes it hard for workers to complain.” The CPID has reported that one in five employers in the UK had at least one person on a zero-hours contract. While zero-hours contracts may suit some individuals due to the flexibility they provide, critics have pointed out that the system can lead to fluctuating wages and a risk that managers may use their contract as both reward and punishment. Vince Cable said that while it was important the UK workforce remained flexible, it was equally important that it was treated fairly. “This is why I have asked my officials to undertake some work over the summer to better understand how this type of contract is working in practice today,” he said. The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Setfords Solicitors are a national full service law firm, with employment law solicitors in Gillingham and across the country.