Real scale of exploitative 'zero hours' working is still unknown

By staff writers
August 2, 2013

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that 250,000 people were employed on zero hours contracts last year - 50,000 more than previously estimated - are alarming critics of the latest erosion of workers' rights.

A zero-hour contract is an arrangement where an employee is required to be available for work as and when required, so that no particular number of hours of times of work are specified or guaranteed The employee is expected to be on-call, but will receive remuneration only for hours worked.

The system is a recipe for insecurity and poor pay, and often ties people into an unsustainable arrangement while making it difficult or impossible to find a viable alternative say charities and trade unions.

Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Frances O'Grady commented yesterday, 1 August 2013: "These updated figures from the ONS still underestimate the true scale of zero hour working, which has spread like wildfire throughout our economy."

She continued: "Three hundred thousand workers in the care sector alone are employed on these insecure terms and conditions and that is before you factor in sectors like higher education, retail, legal services and journalism.

"From Buckingham Palace to Sports Direct zero hours contracts are cropping up everywhere and the government's oft mentioned review must lead to proper regulation to prevent their continued misuse," Ms O'Grady declared.

"Employers cannot be allowed to take advantage of the current economic climate to employ people on the cheap," the TUC chief concluded.


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