TUC calls for a complete ban on zero hours contracts

Zero-hours workers are more than twice as likely to work night shifts than other workers, according to new analysis published by the TUC. The analysis shows that on a range of key measures, zero-hours workers are having a tougher time those in secure employment. The TUC is now calling on the Government to ban zero hours contracts and do more to help people who work anti-social hours. 

Main findings:

  • Nearly a quarter of people on zero hours contracts (23%) regularly work through the night, compared to 1 in 10 of the rest of the workforce.
  • Night-working has been shown to increase long-term health impacts, such as heart disease, shortened life expectancy and risk of cancer.
  • People on zero-hour contracts are paid around a third (£4.10) less an hour than other workers.
  • This is despite the fact that 1 in 7 (14%) are responsible for supervising other workers.
  • 1 in 7 zero-hour workers (16%) do not have work each week.
  • Zero-hours workers work on average 25 hours a week, compared to the average worker, who works 36 hours a week.
  • TUC polling shows that two-thirds of zero-hours workers prefer to be on permanent, secure contracts.

The TUC is now calling for a ban on zero-hour contracts alongside further action from government to tackle exploitative and insecure work including:

  • Ban zero hours contracts completely
  • Introduce a reasonable notice period for shifts, and payment for cancelled shifts
  • Increase enforcement of workers’ rights; and
  • Enable trade unions to access workplaces to tell workers how joining a trade union can improve their life at work.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The vast majority of people on zero-hour contracts want out. The only flexibility offered to them is what’s good for employers. Zero-hours workers regularly work through the night for low pay, putting their health at risk. And many face the constant uncertainty of not knowing when their next shift will come. We need action from government the now to stamp out these exploitative contracts once and for all.”

Main image: Depression breadline by George Segal