ONS statistics suggest faltering popularity in UK, but campaigners warn of rise of short-hours contracts for workers.
Growth in zero-hours contracts has stalled in the UK, according to the latest official figures, but campaigners have warned that insecure work is still a problem in Britain.
There were 1.7m zero-hours contracts in the UK in November 2016, representing 6% of all employment contracts – unchanged from a year earlier. The Office for National Statistics said the number of firms using zero-hours contracts had fallen.
Employees on zero-hours contracts are not guaranteed a minimum number of hours in any given week. The contracts have been widely used by retailers, restaurants, leisure companies and hotels, including Sports Direct and McDonald’s, and tend to be most commonly used at larger firms.
The Resolution Foundation thinktank said there could be a number of reasons why the use of such contracts had stalled, including the bad press received by firms using them and the record employment rate, which could mean companies were struggling to attract workers if they did not guarantee hours of work.
“Today’s figures provide more evidence that the rapid rise in zero-hours contract use looks to have come to an end. It’s likely that this reflects a combination of workers seeking alternatives in a healthier jobs market and firms recognising that they don’t always represent an appropriate option,” said Conor D’Arcy, policy analyst at the foundation.
He said the figures were not necessarily an indication that insecure work was becoming less of a problem in Britain. “Agency work, short-hours contracts and self-employment have all grown substantially in recent years, increasing the number of people in ‘atypical’ work,” he added.