1.4 million on zero-hours contracts

Around 1.4 million people are employed on zero-hours contracts, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) study has suggested.

This is a steep increase from recent ONS research which estimated that 583,000 people were employed on zero-hours contracts in Q4 2014.

The ONS surveyed 5,000 businesses between January and February 2014 and found that:

  • 13% of businesses used non-guaranteed hours contracts
  • nearly half of firms in the tourism, catering and food sectors used non-guaranteed hours contracts
  • 64% of people on zero-hours contracts work part-time
  • 55% of people on zero-hours contracts are women
  • 36% of those on zero-hours contracts are aged between 18 and 24
  • 7% are aged 65 or over.

Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills at the Confederation of British Industry, said:

“Flexible contracts provide opportunities for work and help people build careers. To focus on numbers is to miss the point – zero-hour contracts are a small part of the labour market and provide benefits to businesses and workers. They offer a choice to those who want flexibility in the hours they work, such as students, parents and carers.

“Of course we need to address bad practice, but arbitrary attacks on the existence of flexible contracts would cost jobs and damage growth.”

Recent research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) estimated that over 1 million people – 3% of the UK workforce – were employed on zero-hours contracts in 2013.

The CIPD also found that 23% of UK firms employ people on zero-hours contracts. On average, organisations that use the contracts estimated that 19% of their workforces are on one.

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