Record numbers on 'zero hours'

ITV News has exclusively revealed that a record 200,000 British workers are on "zero hours" contracts - jobs that have no guarantee of regular hours, regular pay or security. This is thought to be one of the factors behind keeping jobless rates down.

Latest ITV News reports

'Zero hours' offers employment to 200,000 in the UK

Kevin Green, of the Employment and Recruitment Confederation, says there is a positive side to 'zero hour' contracts.

Kevin Green of the Employment and Recruitment Confederation. Credit: ITV News

He told ITV News: "Zero hours isn't all about the downside, actually, what you could be saying is this is keeping 200,000 people in work , who may not have been in work if it wasn't for these types of contracts."

Read Laura Kuenssberg's blog 'When is a job not a job?' here

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'Zero hour' contracts can lead unpredictable working

Speaking to Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg, one employee currently on a 'Zero hours' contract told her that in one month she has had 15 shifts, in others she has had one and at times she has been sent home because there isn't a position available.

An employee currently on a 'zero hours' contract talks to business editor Laura Kuenssberg. Credit: ITV News

She said: "Sometimes they will ask you to wait around for an hour to see if there are any positions available and if there's not, you go home and that is a day's wage lost."

She added that if she could get another job she would leave the 'zero hours' contract in exchange for more stability.

Read Laura's blog 'When is a job not a job?' here

Read: Well known companies who use 'zero hours' contracts

'Zero hours' contracts leaving workers without security

ITV News has revealed a record number of workers are in jobs which have no guarantee of regular hours, regular pay, or any job security.

So-called "zero hours" contracts take people off the unemployment register, but they allow businesses, many of them big names, to summon or send home staff, often those in the lowest paid jobs, without warning.

Read: Well known companies who use 'zero hours' contracts

ITV News Business Editor, Laura Kuenssberg, has our exclusive report.

Read Laura's blog 'When is a job not a job?' here

Well known companies who use 'zero hours' contracts

The Co-op employs around a fifth of its funeral staff with "zero hours" contracts, the House of Lords uses the contracts as do Boots, Bupa, Cineworld, Centerparcs, and the NHS including contracts for ambulance crew, nursery schools, driving jobs, and many others.

An exterior view of a Cineworld cinema in Piccadilly, central London, the chain uses "zero hours" contracts
An exterior view of a Cineworld cinema in Piccadilly, central London, the chain uses "zero hours" contracts Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Read more: "Zero hours" contracts explained

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'Zero hours' contracts explained

According to the Government's guidance to employers, "zero hour contracts" are usually for "piece work" or "on call" work.

This means:

  • They are on call to work when needed by bosses
  • Employers do not have to give them work
  • They do not have to take on the work if asked

According to Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg, "under the contracts, employers are legally allowed to employ staff, often in the lowest paid jobs, without any promise of actual work, or income, literally calling them up and summoning them to work or sending them home from one day to the next."

"Workers are often trapped in jobs with no security, no regular income, feeling like they have no choice but to be legally, at the beck and call of their employer.

"But for many workers, a "zero hours" contract can work extremely well, giving flexibility, and in some cases, relatively high pay."

Record numbers of 'zero hours' workers

by - Former Business Editor

For months, experts have puzzled over how the number of people in work has stayed so high, although the economy is stuck in the doldrums.

Tonight, we can reveal part of the answer, as so-called "zero hours" contracts have reached a record high.

The number of workers in jobs, but without any guarantee of regular hours or regular pay, has hit 200,000 according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics for ITV News - more than doubling in just under a decade.

Care workers often work on "zero hours" contracts
Care workers often work on "zero hours" contracts Credit: Jens Kalaene/DPA/Press Association Images

Read more: "Zero hours" explained.

Under the contracts, employers are legally allowed to employ staff, often in the lowest paid jobs, without any promise of actual work, or income, literally calling them up and summoning them to work or sending them home from one day to the next.

But in practice, workers are often trapped in jobs with no security, no regular income, feeling like they have no choice but to be legally, at the beck and call of their employer.

There is more on this story in my blog and on ITV News at 10 tonight.