Zero Hours Contract Numbers at Record High

March 3, 2017

The number of people around the UK who are employed on the basis of zero hours contracts (ZHCs) has reached a record high level.

That’s according to an assessment of the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by the Resolution Foundation, which says there were as many as 910,000 Brits signed up to zero-hour arrangements during the final three months 2016.

Experts now anticipate that there will soon be more than a million men and women around the country on zero hours deals.

The number of people employed on the basis of these flexible but somewhat controversial contracts has been rising consistently and has now more than trebled since 2012.

For many people, ZHCs offer a valuable degree of flexibility in terms of when and how often they work but for others they are a source of significant uncertainty and serious financial difficulty.

According to the Resolution Foundation, a person who works on the basis of a ZHC will earn on average around £1,000 less each year than someone who is employed in the same role but on the basis of a traditional permanent employment contract.

“The UK’s labour market has been full of surprises in recent years: record employment has run alongside a record pay squeeze, while the passing away of the ‘job for life’ has been matched by a fall in people moving jobs,” Conor D’Arcy from the Resolution Foundation wrote recently on his organisation’s website.

“But one reliable trend has been the continued rise of ZHCs. Movements in the number of ZHCs has become a fixture of labour market analysis since 2013 and a worry for those concerned about the quality of work in the UK.”

Although the number of people who are on zero hours contracts continued to rise during 2016, the pace of increase in this context was notably slower last year than was the case in 2015, according to ONS data.

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