As todays figures released by the ONS indicate that the number of people working on zero hours contracts has increased to 744,000 (representing 2.4% of the working population) from April to June 2015 from 624,000 (representing 2% of those in work) in the same period in 2014, Jon Ingham Glassdoor’s Career and Workplace Expert comments: “It’s no great surprise to see the number of people on these contracts is on the up. The fact that many of those surveyed in the ONS study might not know what a zero hours contract is could mean the scope of the problem is far greater than the figures indicate. With 255,000 of these contracts held by 16-25 year olds, it doesn’t feel like the best start in their careers. But for many it’s all they know so they just get swept along and accept this ‘pay as you go’ employment as the norm. Sadly, ONS figures show that 40% of those on a zero hours contract want more hours.
“Recent research from Glassdoor reveals that one in four unemployed adults has been offered one of these contracts and almost half has turned them down. 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. For some it might be beneficial to have the flexibility to fit around their lifestyle but for others it’s a substandard contract which offers little in the way of benefits or security. Whilst we may assume this is a short term stop gap, today’s ONS figures show that almost one in ten people have one (66,000) have been on it for ten years or more.
“Whilst these contracts can provide a useful stop-gap, valuable work experience and the flexibility can be a positive depending on life stage, it stills feels like these employees are second class citizens.
Glassdoor research which was carried out amongst 1,001 unemployed adults revealed:
The main reasons people rejected zero hours contracts;
- The need to receive a guaranteed level of income in order to stop receiving benefits (54 percent)
- Lack of trust towards employers offering this type of contract (44 percent)
- People are also unhappy with the irregular working hours these contract offer (30 percent)
- Finally, applicants being put off by the negative press coverage about them (13 percent).
- 45 percent of unemployed people surveyed feel that these contracts are exploitative and 39 percent would like to see them abolished.
- More than one in three (34 percent) feel these contracts are only beneficial for employers.
- When it comes to how dedicated zero hours employees are, 25 percent claim it would make them work harder as they would want to move over to a permanent contract.
- However, 18 percent feel they wouldn’t work as hard as their colleagues if they felt they had an inferior contract.
- Fifty three percent of currently unemployed people that were offered a zero hours contract in the past accepted it.
- More than two thirds (69 percent) simply needed the money at the time the zero hours contract was offered, 37 percent had no choice and more than one in four (27 percent) needed the work experience.
- However, on a more positive note, 22 percent claimed the job was just a stop-gap so the type of contract wasn’t an issue.
- Approximately one in five (19 percent) saw the contract as a positive and the flexibility that it offers suited them.
- Over one in ten (13 percent) of those that accepted would prefer to take a job than claim benefits.
- One in five of those surveyed do not know what a zero hours contract is
If you are offered a zero hours contract, look on Glassdoor to find out what it’s like work within the organization, including compensation, and if that company is a good fit for you.