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Almost 1 million workers are now on zero hour contracts

Yahoo! Finance UK logo Yahoo! Finance UK 13/08/2019 Tom Belger
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New figures reveal almost 1 million workers are on zero-hour contracts in the UK, amid growing concern about the rise of insecure jobs among the youngest and oldest workers.

Trade unions claimed the government had “failed to crack down on unfair employment practices” as official figures showed a 15% spike in workers on zero-hour contracts in the past year to near record highs.

896,000 people, or just over 1 in 40 people in employment, are on the contracts where workers are on call but not guaranteed any work, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released on Tuesday.

The number of zero-hour workers aged 65 or over has also soared by 30% in the past year, while the proportion of 16-24-year-old workers on zero hours now stands at 8.8%.

The government welcomed figures showing record high employment and wage growth at an 11-year high, but experts point out insecure, zero-hours or freelance work has helped drive part of recent employment growth in Britain.

James Smith, an economist at ING Economics, tweeted: “Some interesting stuff going on in the UK self-employed numbers of late. Large chunk of recent gains in total employment are down to the self-employed, although less so in the latest data. Also unusually large increases in part-time self-employed recently.”

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Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC which represents trade unions, said: “It’s no surprise zero-hours contracts are rising when ministers have failed to crack down on unfair employment practices.

“The government must ban zero-hours contracts so that all workers can have solid jobs with full workers’ rights.”

Laura Gardiner, research director at the Resolution Foundation, said: “While the labour market overall is in rude health, the significant rise in zero-hours contracts shows that job quality remains a concern, particularly for young people.”

The department for business, energy and industrial strategy has been approached for comment.

Explore the issues faced by the UK’s most vulnerable children and young people this summer and discover what you can do to help.

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