Zero hours contracts on the increase

Author: James Watkins

Date: 15/09/2016

Pub seatThe number of workers on zero-hours contracts has increased by a fifth over the last year, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The ONS found that from April to June of this year, 903,000 workers reported being employed on a zero-hours basis, a significant increase from the 747,000 people who reported being employed on this basis during the same period in 2015.

Zero-hours contracts have aroused concern for some time, with critics deriding them as an insecure form of employment, open to exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

Zero-hours contracts are a form of employment arrangement where the employee is not guaranteed any hours. These kinds of arrangements are by no means fundamentally flawed, but a lack of regulation has left them open to exploitation.

The government has already taken some action, preventing employers from or enforcing exclusivity clauses which prevent workers from accepting work elsewhere. However, this has not been enough to quell concerns about the prevalence of zero-hours work.

Are zero-hours contracts on the way out?

Despite this increase, several major employers have recently indicated that they are moving away from employing workers on a zero hours basis.

JD Wetherspoons announced this week that they would offer all of their employees a guaranteed minimum number of hours, a move that will affect 24,000 employees. The pub chain took the decision after a trial which showed 4 out of 5 employees preferred to have a guaranteed number of hours each week.

Suffolk brewer Greene King and cinema chain Everyman have also announced that they will move workers off of zero hours contracts this week.

They were following the suit of Sports Direct, who announced last week that they would offer guaranteed hours to their casual retail staff, following pressure from their shareholders.

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