Zero-hours contracts on the rise

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The number of people on zero-hours contracts in the North West is continuing to rise according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.

In 2008 the Trade Union Congress calculated that there were 9,861 people employed on a zero-hours contract.

However, it is now believed that the figure has risen to around 77,000 – leaving even more people with no guarantee of work.

Campaigners say that the contracts have helped the government to mask the true extent of the lack of regular employment available to people in the wake of the financial crash.

According to a survey from isidewith.com only 34% of people in the North West support the use of zero-hours contracts.

10% of those said they only supported them in cases where people were only seeking part-time employment, while 8% said they supported them but they think that exclusivity clauses should be banned and a minimum number of hours should be guaranteed.

The Prime Minister David Cameron has defended the contracts by claiming that many people on them favour them because of the flexible hours. Earlier this year he controversially claimed he could not live on one.

It is believed around a third of those on the deals would like more hours.

Financial security

Those who oppose the contracts say that they mean families constantly live in fear of not being able to pay bills and put food on the table.

James McKenna, the Regional Campaigns and Policy Officer for the Trade Union Congress in the North West said: “It’s a real problem for workers now and if we want to tackle some of the problems were facing in the economy it’s about hours.

“You’ve got to guarantee people hours because aside from giving them the financial security to go and spend in the local economy, you just can’t have a future.

“You can’t get a mortgage, you can’t manage, you can’t do a range of things because you don’t know just how much money you’re going to earn each week.”

Zero-hours contracts also mean that those employed on them often can’t go and find another job because they are required to go and work whenever they get a call.

Martyn Rawlinson, a Labour Cabinet Member for Resources at Preston Council, said: “The Labour Party wants to scrap zero-hours contracts and make them illegal. Preston council don’t have zero-hours contracts, we don’t believe in them.

“We have casual jobs that don’t involve a contract so people can work whoever they like whenever they like. If they want to turn down work from us there’s no penalty, whereas on a zero-hours contract you’re contracted to that company and you need to be available for that company.”

The percentage of people in employment on zero-hours contracts rose from 1.9% in 2013 to 2.3% in 2014.

According to figures from the Office of National Statistics from October to December last year, around 1 in 43 people in the UK are on a zero-hours contract.

The people most likely to be on the contracts are women, those in full-time education, part-time workers, those under 25 and those over 65.

Acas — Zero-hours contracts

National Careers Service

Job Centre Plus

BBC — What are zero-hours contracts?

BBC — People on zero-hours contracts paid less than others

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