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Zero-hours contract in main job now reported by 744,000 people

Released: 02 September 2015 Download PDF

There were 744,000 people on a zero-hours contract in their main job, as reported to the Labour Force Survey for April-June 2015. This is 2.4% of all people in employment.

The latest estimate for employees on a zero-hours contract is an increase from the 624,000 people who reported this at the same time last year, or 2.0% of those in work. Two-thirds of the increase is from people in their job for more than a year and so the overall increase does not necessarily relate to new zero hours contracts. It could have been due either to increased recognition or to people moving on to a zero-hours contract with the same employer. Women made up 54% of those on zero-hours contracts, compared with 47% of other workers. Zero-hours contracts were common among students, with 20% of people on them being in full-time education, compared with just 3% of other workers.

ONS has also published updated results from its survey of employee contracts used by businesses, the first time that these have been available for a fully comparable time period. The latest figures show that there were around 1.5 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours where some work was carried out in a particular fortnight in January 2015. This compares with 1.4 million such contracts where some work was done in the equivalent fortnight in January 2014. This increase, however, is not statistically significant.

Commenting on these figures, senior ONS statistician Nick Palmer said: “Both measures suggest there may have been a small trend towards more use of zero-hours contracts, although the usual margins of error associated with the surveys’ estimates mean that we cannot be certain of this. Moreover, as previously, the results from the Labour Force Survey might have been influenced by increased recognition of the term ‘zero hours contract’ among respondents.”

Background notes

  1. The report is on the ONS website at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lmac/contracts-with-no-guaranteed-hours/employee-contracts-that-do-not-guarantee-a-minimum-number-of-hours--2015-update-/employee-contracts-that-do-not-guarantee-a-minimum-number-of-hours--2015-update.html
  2. The figures for both measures are on a not seasonally adjusted basis, so when making comparisons over time it is best to use figures relating to the same times of year.
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  4. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the media relations office.
  5. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. © Crown copyright 2015.

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