Zero-hours contracts on the increase

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The issue of zero-hours contracts refuses to go away, with news released this week that this controversial arrangement has become further entrenched in business culture.

40% of workers on zero-hours contracts want to work for more hours than they are currently being offered and, furthermore, the number of workers on zero-hours contracts has increased in the last year, climbing from 624,000 to 744,000 – a rise of 19%. The rise has amplified concerns that employers are now turning to zero-hours contracts as a strategic default option as they seek to further cut business costs.

Workers on zero-hours contracts do not receive benefits like sic k pay and, on average, they earn less than permanent staff in similar roles. Research has shown that the difference in wage is often as big as £300 per week.

Large firms are the main users of zero-hours contracts, particularly in the areas of hospitality, leisure, health and education, although the contract is becoming more ‘visible’ in other sectors.