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Soapbox: Zero-hours contracts here to stay; can be positive if managed well
Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser at The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, writes in response to yesterday's Office for National Statistics figures on zero-hours contracts...
"Today's figures show a further increase in the number of people on zero-hours contracts, including a growing proportion of people on those contracts for less than a year.
The data also reveals a fall in the number of zero-hour contracts that businesses are using. This may be due to a growing proportion of employers who are thinking more carefully about whether the use of zero-hour contracts offers the right balance of mutual flexibility for employer and employee in the medium to long term.
It may also have been helped by recent legislation that bans employers from preventing workers from working for another employer. The data also suggests that zero-hour contracts are now a permanent feature of the UK jobs market that still enjoys a higher share of permanent contracts than many of our Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development competitors.
It's important that the debate on zero-hours contracts is a balanced one, recognising that when managed well, these contracts can benefit both employers and workers. Recent CIPD research found that more zero-hours contract employees are satisfied with their jobs and happy with their work-life balance than those on normal contracts on average. They're also paid the same hourly rate as those in the same job on permanent contracts.
However, it is also important to recognise that there is room for improvement in the employer operation of zero-hours contracts, particularly in terms of career progression and inclusion. The same study shows that workers on zero-hours contracts see fewer ways to progress and improve their skills, which suggest that management practices need to be improved further.
The findings of the recent CIPD study, published in autumn 2015, show that:
* On average, the proportion of zero-hours contract (ZHC) workers who are either very satisfied or satisfied with their jobs is 65%, higher than the proportion for employees as a whole (63%).
* ZHC workers are also more likely to say they have the right work-life balance (62% compared to 58% of other employees)
* ZHC workers are less likely to feel under uncomfortable or excessive pressure at work at least once or twice a week (34% compared to 41% of other employees).
* Less than half (43%) of ZHC workers feel fully or fairly well-informed about what is going on at work, compared with 56% of all employees."
10th March 2016