‘Crisis’ as record 800k people on zero-hours contracts

'Unjust contracts' under attack
'Unjust contracts' under attack

Insecure work in the UK is said to have reached “crisis” levels after figures showed that the number of workers on zero-hours contracts has increased by 104,000 to a record 801,000.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 2.5% of the employed UK workforce were on zero-hours contracts in the quarter to last December, up from 2.3% in the same period of 2014.

The data showed there were around 1.7 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours in November, confirming that many workers are on more than one zero-hours contract.

Unions and Labour attacked the contracts as “unjust”, while zero-hours workers called them a “nightmare”.

Comments posted on the jobs site Glassdoor revealed the difficulties of working on a zero-hours contract, under which workers do not know from one week to the next how many hours they will be offered.

One former worker at retail giant Sports Direct, which employs a large number on the controversial contracts, said: “Never worked longer than a four hour shift because they didn’t want to have to give me a break.”

A sales assistant in London wrote: “The 0 hour contract is bad because you can end up not getting work for days, or even weeks.”

A part-time shop worker described the contracts as a “nightmare”, saying staff wanted four-hour contracts to be doubled.

Unison leader Dave Prentis said: “These unjust contracts increase uncertainty and undermine confidence.”