ONS report states 1.8 million zero-hours contracts were used by UK firms last summer

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures that show UK firms issued 1.8mn zero-hours contracts during the first two weeks of August 2014.

Zero-hours contracts do not guarantee a worker any hours of employment, as no minimum threshold is in place to regulate what a company has to provide.

ONS data has also shown that 2.3 per cent of all people in employment (697,000 workers) stated that their main job was on a zero-hours contract basis between October to December last year.

While some workers and unions do not support the fact that the contracts allow companies to send staff away without work, or avoid offering them any work for days or even weeks at a time, there is still support for them from those that prefer to have a greater degree of flexibility in their employment.

The steep rise in zero-hours contracts used during August is likely to have been caused by a larger number of seasonal industries seeking summer workers.

According to the ONS, the average worker on a zero-hours contract received the opportunity to work approximately 25 hours each week, and a third reportedly wanted additional hours compared to just ten per cent of people in other employment types.

However, the Government has already made it clear that it is taking further steps to ensure the rules mean that employers cannot tie workers exclusively to their zero-hours contract, meaning that workers can seek additional sources of employment if they choose to.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.