Two-thirds of zero-hours workers want jobs with guaranteed hours, TUC poll reveals

By agency reporter
December 4, 2017

Most people on zero-hours contracts are not on them by choice, new TUC polling has revealed. The poll shows that two-thirds (66 per cent) of zero-hours workers would rather have a contract with guaranteed hours. And just one in four (25 per cent) say they prefer being on zero-hours contracts.

The survey shows that the main reason people are on zero-hours contracts is because it is the only type of work available to them. More than half of zero-hours workers (53 per cent) are thinking about quitting their job over the coming year.

The polling also found that many zero-hours workers are missing out on basic rights at work:

  • Only one in eight (12 per cent) say they get sick pay.
  • Only one in 14 (seven per cent) would get redundancy pay.
  • Two-fifths (43 per cent) say they don’t get holiday pay.
  • Half (47 per cent) say they do not get written terms and conditions.
  • Just one in 20 (five per cent) say they have the right to a permanent contract after working the same hours consistently.

The poll also reveals the ‘last minute’ nature of zero-hours working. More than half (51 per cent) of zero-hours workers have had shifts cancelled at less than 24 hours' notice. And nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) have been offered work at less than 24 hours' notice.

Most zero-hours contract workers (59 per cent) want more hours. The majority (54 per cent) say they find it difficult to pay bills because they can’t get enough work. But any requests for additional shifts are as likely to be rejected as accepted.

Nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) of zero-hours workers say they wouldn’t be able to cope with an unexpected bill of £500.

The TUC says the government should clamp down on zero-hours working in its forthcoming response to the Taylor Review.

The TUC estimates that zero-hours working costs the exchequer £1.9 billion a year. This is because zero-hours contract workers earn significantly less than regular employees and therefore:

  • pay less tax,
  • pay less national insurance,
  • are more reliant on tax credits.

Median pay for a zero-hours worker is a third (£3.50) less an hour than for an average employee.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said, “Most people on zero-hours contracts are not on them by choice. They’d much rather have the security of guaranteed hours and the same rights as employees.  

“The so-called ‘flexibility’ these contracts offer is one-sided. Many zero-hours workers have shifts cancelled at the last minute. And lots are struggling to make ends meet.

“Now’s the time for the government to ban zero-hours contracts, as they have done in other countries like New Zealand. Every job should be a great job – but far too many workers in the UK are being treated like disposable labour.”



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