Zero-hour contracts now represent nearly three per cent of all people in employment in the UK.
Official figures from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimate that 905,000 people were on a contract with no guaranteed weekly hours in the last three months of 2016. The figure is 101,000 higher than that for October to December 2015 (it’s up from 804,000).
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) points out that increases in the number of people reporting to the LFS has previously accounted for an increase in the figures. However, the ONS says that it is not possible to estimate the extent that this latest change has been affected by greater awareness and recognition of the term “zero hours contract”.
People on zero-hours contracts are more likely to be young, part-time, women, or in full-time education when compared with other people in employment, according to the ONS.
Women make up a bigger proportion of those reporting working on zero-hours contracts (52% compared with women in employment not on zero-hours contracts: 47%). And people who report being on a zero-hours contract are more likely to be at the youngest end of the age range. Nearly a third of people on the contracts are aged 16 to 24 (compared with 12% for all people in employment not on zero-hours).
Perhaps unsurprising, over a fifth of people in employment on a zero hours contract are in the accommodation, food and drink industry and 18% of people on the zero hours contracts are in full-time education.
The ONS says that on average someone on a zero-hours contract usually works 25 hours a week. Around 1 in 3 people (32%) on the contracts want more hours, with most wanting them in their current job, as opposed to a different job that offers more hours. By comparison, 9% of other people in employment wanted more hours.