Number of workers on zero-hours contracts falls, official figures show

Posted On: 
19th September 2017

The number of workers employed through controversial zero-hours contracts has fallen since May last year, official figures revealed today.

A campaigner against zero-hour contracts joins a protest outside a Sports Direct branch
PA Images

Some 1.4m workers had no guaranteed hours as of May 2017 – down from 1.7m a year before. But the proportion of those working on zero-hour contracts remains at 5% of the workforce.

Labour said it was a “national scandal” that so many people were still “stuck in limbo”, while the TUC fumed: “1.4 million zero-hour contracts is 1.4 million too many.”

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The latest figures follow a recent Labour Force Survey, which found the number of people working on the contracts reduced by 20,000 between the three months to June 2016 and the same period this year.

It comes after a recent government review launched by Theresa May said flexible workers should be handed more rights and protections against employer abuse.

Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: "It is a national scandal that there are 1.4 million contracts that don’t guarantee minimum hours, with people stuck in limbo in insecure work, not knowing how much they'll earn from week to week, unable to budget for basic necessities and unsure if they can even pay the rent.

“The Government urgently needs to get a grip on the broken labour market which is rigged against workers and adopt Labour's policy to ban zero-hour contracts."

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “One in ten UK workers remain in insecure jobs. The spread of low-paid self-employment, agency work and short-hours contracts mean millions are struggling to get by.

“The government cannot afford to take its eye off the ball. We need more decent jobs in the parts of the country that need them most.”

The official review by Martin Taylor said working on a zero-hours contract can make it "very difficult for a person to manage their financial obligations, or for example secure a mortgage”.