Zero hour contracts under scrutiny again

New statistics on zero-hours contracts have revealed that more than 50% of those with zero hours’ contracts are women, raising concerns that they are being disproportionately affected by the precarious nature of zero-hours work.

A new Office for National Statistics (ONS) report estimates that 6% of UK employment contracts were carried out on a ‘zero hours’ basis in November 2017, equating to 1.8 million contracts, an increase of 100,000 on the equivalent figures for November 2016.

According to a demographic breakdown outlined in the report, more than half of respondents working on zero-hours contracts were women. Almost two-thirds of people on zero-hours contracts work part-time. Younger workers make up the other key demographic of those working on zero-hours contracts, with nearly one in 10 in full-time education and 36% overall aged between 16 and 24.

Employers must balance flexible working, good employment practice and job security in a way that works best for them, the fluctuating demands of their business, client demands and their workforce and flexible contracts offer employers the ability to respond quickly to the fluctuating demands of the economy. When managed well and by choice, these contracts are an important means of offering people increased choice and flexibility in their working lives. They offer a part-time option that people choose to fit around their other commitments, and data has shown that more than half of employees on zero-hours find that it creates a positive work-life balance.

However, whilst some people are happy with zero or nominal-hours contracts, for many – particularly those who cannot find other employment – they are a problem as they find it harder to get mortgages or loans.

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