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Zero-hours contracts on the rise in the UK

Zero-hours contracts on the rise in the UK

According to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of workers in the UK who are on so called zero-hours contracts has gone up.

In the April to June period this year, 744,000 people were employed under the terms, which means that a 2.4% of the total number of people in work were affected. The number represents an increase of 0.4% on the same period from 2014.

Understanding the phrase

The ONS adds a note of caution to the figures by asking whether or not people actually understand what 'zero hours' means.

“It is not possible to say how much of the increase between 2014 and 2015 is due to greater recognition rather than new contracts,” it said in a statement.

The ONS data revealed that women, those in full time education and workers aged under 25 or over 65 are the most likely to be on a zero-hours contract.

The average working week was around 25 hours, and around 40% of the people employed wanted to work more hours.

Problem or solution

Jon Ingham, a career and workplace expert at jobs and recruitment marketplace Glassdoor, suggested that the fact people might not know whether or not they were employed under a zero-hours contract “could mean the scope of the problem is far greater than the figures indicate.”

“It’s safe to say that employees who accept a zero-hours contract do not do so as a career choice. For most it’s because they have limited options,” Ingham said.

However, HR trade body the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) said that when they were managed well, zero-hours contracts “can benefit both employers and workers.”

CIPD research found that zero-hours workers are just as satisfied with their job as the average UK employee, at 60% and 59% respectively.

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