New CIPD research suggests that there could be about one million zero hours workers in the UK - but just 14% report that their employer often fails to provide them with sufficient hours each week.
The figures released today are early findings from CIPD research designed to investigate the usage of zero hour contracts in different sectors, with a view to informing best practice guidance so that they are used for the benefit of both employers and employees.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that approximately 250,000 people – less than 1% of those in employment - consider themselves to be on a zero hour contract. However, the new CIPD research suggests this may be an underestimate.
Data from the CIPD’s forthcoming summer 2013 Labour Market Outlook – based on a nationally representative survey of over 1,000 employers – show that:
Data from the CIPD’s quarterly Employee Outlook survey series, based on a sample of 148 zero hours contract workers, provides additional insight into the circumstances of employees who regarded themselves as having no guaranteed hours of employment/as a zero hours worker:
Commenting on these findings, CIPD CEO Peter Cheese said: “Zero hours contracts are a hot topic and our research suggests they are being used more commonly than the ONS figures would imply. However, the assumption that all zero hours contracts are “bad” and the suggestion from some quarters that they should be banned should be questioned.
“There does need to be a closer look at what is meant by a zero hours contract, the different forms that they take, and clearer guidance on what good and bad practice in their use looks like. And this needs to consider both the advantages and disadvantages in practice for businesses and employees.
“Zero hours contracts, used appropriately, can provide flexibility for employers and employees and can play a positive role in creating more flexible working opportunities. This can for example allow parents of young children, carers, students and others to fit work around their home lives. However, for some this may be a significant disadvantage where they need more certainty in their working hours and earnings, and we need to ensure that proper support for employees and their rights are not being compromised through such arrangements. Zero hours contracts cannot be used simply to avoid an employer’s responsibilities to its employees.
“We are continuing to research current practices and will use our research to produce guidance for employers as well as employees. We will share it with BIS to feed into the work Vince Cable has commissioned on zero hours contracts.”