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Zero-hours contracts a sign of Britains two-tier workforce, warns TUC

“People employed on these contracts earn &pound300 a week less, on average, than workers in secure jobs.

“I challenge any minister or business leader to survive on a low-paid zero-hours contract job, not knowing from one day to the next how much work they will have.

“Try telling zero-hours workers who have been turned down by mortgage lenders and landlords that they are getting a good deal.

“We need a stronger and fairer recovery that works for everyone, not one that forces people to survive off scraps of work.”

Research published by the TUC shows that average weekly earnings for zero-hours workers are just &pound188, compared to &pound479 for permanent workers.

Two-fifths (39 per cent) of zero-hours workers earn less than &pound111 a week – the qualifying threshold for statutory sick pay – compared to one in twelve (8 per cent) permanent employees.

The TUC estimates that in addition to Britain’s zero-hours workforce there are another 820,000 UK employees who report being underemployed on between 0 and 19 hours a week.

Jon Ingham Glassdoor’s career and workplace expert, commented, “It’s no great surprise to see the number of people on these contracts is on the up. The fact that many of those surveyed in the ONS study might not know what a zero hours contract is could mean the scope of the problem is far greater than the figures indicate. With 255,000 of these contracts held by 16-25 year olds, it doesn’t feel like the best start in their careers. But for many it’s all they know so they just get swept along and accept this & lsquo;pay as you go’ employment as the norm. Sadly, ONS figures show that 40% of those on a zero hours contract want more hours.

“Recent research from Glassdoor reveals that one in four unemployed adults has been offered one of these contracts and almost half has turned them down. It’s safe to say that employees who accept a zero hours contract do not do so as a career choice. For most it’s because they have limited options. For some it might be beneficial to have the flexibility to fit around their lifestyle but for others it’s a substandard contract which offers little in the way of benefits or security. Whilst we may assume this is a short term stop gap, today’s ONS figures show that almost one in ten people have one (66,000) have been on it for ten years or more.

“Whilst these contracts can provide a useful stop-gap, valuable work experience and the flexibility can be a positive depending on life stage, it stills feels like these employees are second class citizens.

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