Zero-hour contract workers at record levels

More than 910,000 workers were on zero-hour contracts in the final three months of 2016, according to data from the Resolution Foundation.

The record figure comes despite a slowdown in the uptake of zero-hours contracts in the latter half of the year.

Leisure companies, restaurants, hotels and retailers often use the contracts, which do not guarantee hours of work, but require individuals to be available.

According to the latest data, the number of zero-hour contracts increased by 100,000 between the final three months of 2015 and the same period in 2016 – a jump of 13%.

Overall growth of zero-hours contracts increased by 0.8% in the second half of 2016, a marked improvement on a growth rate of 7.7% noted during the second half of 2015.

The Foundation suggests that growth is dwindling as more employers need to guarantee work in order to fill vacancies, while people are also more aware of what types of contract they are on.

Moving to fixed-hours contracts can help to support growth and makes financial management easier for smaller firms.

Companies can plan for growth when in full knowledge of their expenditure, allowing for refinance options if necessary, and can provide additional job security for staff as a result.

Those who are unsure of their financial position may wish to undertake an independent business review to ascertain if it is possible to run the business more efficiently.

Such means can result in more practical approaches to business being taken, especially if methods are incorporated to tackle difficult cash flow or to raise greater levels of finance from existing assets.

One particular age group to note a rise in zero-hours contract usage was among those aged 55 and 64 – it is suggested such individuals were using the contracts as an additional means of topping up their income.

The Foundation has suggested that negative publicity surrounding zero-hour contracts is also behind their decline in use although the flexibility on offer remains appealing for some workers.

By Phil Smith

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