Are ZERO HOUR contracts on the decline?

While campaigners lament the continuing rise of the gig economy, saying that a lack of secure work is still an issue in the UK, the rise in zero-hour contracts has plateaued for the moment, according to recent official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that the number of zero-hour contracts in the country was 1.7 million as of November 2016.

This was the same total as the year before and accounted for six per cent of all UK employment contracts. The ONS also said that the number of companies that were issuing zero-hour contracts had decreased.

These kinds of contracts have been popular with employers such as restaurants, hotels and retailers, and have included firms such as Sports Direct and McDonald’s. Bigger companies tend to use zero-hour contracts the most.

A thinktank called Resolution Foundation put forward an explanation for why zero-hour contracts had stalled, saying the negative publicity these contracts had attracted was probably a factor. Another reason was the high rate of employment, which could result in firms not being able to secure enough workers without guaranteeing some level of weekly work.

An analyst at the thinktank said the ONS figures indicated that the rapid spread of zero-hour working seemed to be at an end. This was attributed to the robust state of the jobs market and employers perhaps realising that these types of contracts are not always the most appropriate way to retain the best staff and boost productivity.


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