Belfast Telegraph

Workers on zero hour contracts 'would prefer to have guaranteed hours' says study

By Alan Jones

Most workers on zero-hours contracts would rather have a job with guaranteed hours, a new report reveals.

A survey of 300 adults employed on one of the controversial contracts showed that two thirds would rather have a guaranteed number of hours every week.

The main reason people were on a zero-hours contract was because it was the only type of work available to them, research by the TUC found.

Only one in eight said they received sick pay, two fifths do not get holiday pay and only 7% would receive redundancy pay, it found.

Half of those questioned said they had shifts cancelled with less than 24 hours notice, and most wanted to work more hours.

The TUC estimated that zero-hours working is costing the exchequer £1.9bn a year, because those on the contracts pay less tax and national insurance and are more reliant on tax credits.

General secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Most people on zero-hours contracts are not on them by choice. They'd much rather have the security of guaranteed hours and the same rights as employees.

"The so-called 'flexibility' these contracts offer is one-sided. Many zero-hours workers have shifts cancelled at the last minute and lots are struggling to make ends meet.

"Now's the time for the government to ban zero-hours contracts, as they have done in other countries like New Zealand.

"Every job should be a great job, but far too many workers in the UK are being treated like disposable labour."

The latest official figures showed there were an estimated 1.4 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours in May, down from 1.7 million in the same month a year ago and the lowest since January 2014.

While the overall number fell, the percentage of these contracts as a share of all employment agreements remained unchanged at 5%.

Meanwhile, a previous study showed hairdressers, cleaners and construction workers are being told they have to become self-employed so their employer can avoid the costs of sick, holiday or maternity pay.

Callers to the helpline of the conciliation service Acas also disclosed that offers of work dried up if they became pregnant or had a serious illness.

Some workers who fell out with their manager were not sure if they had been sacked or simply left out of a rota temporarily.

There was also uncertainty about being paid while travelling or on call.

Belfast Telegraph

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