Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland has smallest rate of zero-hours contracts

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland has the UK's lowest proportion of workers on controversial zero-hours contracts, official figures show.

A report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 1.9% of workers here - 15,500 people - were employed in this way.

Across the UK, just over 900,000 people work on a zero-hours basis in their main job - up from 747,000 a year ago. The East Midlands has the highest level of such working.

Nick Palmer from the ONS said: "The estimated number of people saying they work on a zero-hours contract has risen by over 20% since the same time last year. It is likely that some of the increase we are seeing is because public awareness of the term 'zero hours contract' has continued to grow."

Jimmy Kelly, Ireland regional secretary for Unite, added: "Unite is calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to follow the example of New Zealand and ban these exploitative contracts. Do they want to engage in an unwinnable race-to-the-bottom on workers' conditions, meaning more low-wage, part-time casual working, or will they invest in growing a high-value added economy, providing decent and secure employment for all?"

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "The Government has taken some important steps to make work pay, including introducing the National Living Wage. The next step is to look at how it can make people's incomes more secure."

Belfast Telegraph