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Zero hours contract numbers remain stable

12 May 2017

Despite a fall in the number of companies using zero hours contracts, the number of contracts has remained stable, according to the latest report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

With the results reported by a number of the UK's national media outlets, the main figure emerging from the latest study showed there were 1.7m zero hours contracts in the year to November 2016.

This figure was the same as that reported a year earlier and represented a total of 6% of all UK employment contracts.

In previous years, high growth figures had been reported in the numbers of zero hours contracts.

The ONS report said this could be due to increasing awareness among workers responding to the survey over the years about the details of their contracts.

Further considerations for reasons for the levelling-off of contract numbers were provided by The Guardian newspaper, which quoted response from the Resolution Foundation.

These included the effect of bad press received by companies using zero hours contracts.

Record employment figures for the UK could also mean businesses were finding it harder to attract workers without guaranteeing working hours.

Resolution Foundation policy analyst Conor D'Arcy said the latest figures showed the "rapid rise in zero hours contract use looks to have to come to an".

Both Mr D'Arcy and others have stated that concerns were continuing to be voiced over insecure working terms offering by some agencies, shorter hours in other areas and issues around self-employment.

The figures showed that 905,000 people were employed on zero hours contracts in the last quarter of 2016.

This figure represented a rise of 13% on the same period 12 months before, with more than 30% expressing the wish to work more hours then they are offered, compared with a total of 9% for those in non-zero hours contracts.

The issue looks set to be an area of focus within the forthcoming General Election, with all parties urged to include action on zero hours within their manifestos.

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