Record number of young workers on zero-hour contracts, says report | Personal Finance | Finance


A new report says more young people are working on zero-hour contracts than ever before. The Work Foundation found that in 2023, there were 136,000 more workers on these contracts than in 2022.

Most of these went to young people aged 16 to 24.

The foundation says not many people with zero-hour contracts get regular pay or have rights at work. They say three out of four of the 1.1 million people on these contracts don’t have secure jobs.

Alice Martin from the Work Foundation said: “Zero-hour contracts have previously been hailed the answer to flexible work, but our research shows too often it is only employers that have choices, workers do not.”

She also said: “The data shows these contracts affect certain workers more than others, and it is young workers particularly young women who are bearing the brunt of policy-makers inaction.”

Alice added: “After a decade of indecision over zero-hour contracts, the UK has fallen behind and now our younger generation are paying the price.”

She thinks the UK should do what other countries have done. Some places have banned zero-hour contracts or made strict rules about them.

She says we need to make work more secure but still keep it flexible.

The Work Foundation is worried that young people might not be able to get good jobs in the future because of this.

The study found that black workers are nearly three times more likely to have zero-hour contracts than white workers. Workers of mixed backgrounds are also more likely to be on these contracts compared to white workers.

The report said that in 2023, one out of every ten young workers in the UK had a zero-hour contract.

Paul Nowak, who is the boss of TUC, said: “Zero-hours contracts may be a dream for bad bosses, but they can be nightmare for the people on them.”

He also said: “This report lays bare the huge financial insecurity workers on zero-hours contracts face.”

Paul explained that these contracts give bosses almost all the power over how many hours people work and how much money they make. This makes it very hard for workers to know how much they will earn or plan for things like looking after their children.

He even said: “I would challenge any business leader or politician to try and survive on a zero-hours contract not knowing how much money you’ll have from one week to the next.”

Corey Edwards, who works at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), said: “The informality, instability and non-standard form of zero-hours contract work makes workers increasingly vulnerable in terms of both their physical and mental health.”

Corey talked about how these contracts can lead to not knowing if you’ll have a job for long, working strange hours, being treated badly, and not getting enough rest.

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