Huge rise in zero-hours contracts use

Yorkshire has seen a huge rise in the number of people on zero-hours contracts in the past year, latest figures show, sparking concerns over the impact on the region's workforce.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 15th September 2016, 1:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 4:01 pm

An estimated 87,000 people are now on zero-hours contracts in Yorkshire and the Humber, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), a rise of 64 per cent year on year.

This is the biggest spike in the country and is compared to a national increase of 21 per cent, prompting concern from unions over the wider impact.

“It’s scandalous,” said Gary Cleaver, Unison regional organiser for Yorkshire and the Humber. “There’s mass uncertainty. There’s enormous financial and personal insecurity. The knock on effect is that people aren’t spending money. You can draw a line across the country – the north/ south divide is clear.”

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The government figures estimate the number of zero-hours contracts across the country, based on twice-yearly surveys of businesses and from the Labour Force Survey. Comparing the period April to June against the same time last year it found that 903,000 people nationwide are now on zero-hours contracts, around 2.9 per cent of the working population.

The ONS has said this may be down to growing awareness, admitting that it doesn’t know how much of an impact this has had. But unions say they are certainly seeing an increase.

“These figures are no surprise,” said Bill Adams, regional TUC secretary for Yorkshire and the Humber. “We’re getting more and more people coming to us for advice. Some employees say it’s good as it gives people flexibility.

“But for every person they find saying that, I can find 1,000 saying the opposite. They are sat at home waiting for a call. These are people who are having a pretty bad time.

“It’s crept in right across industry and it’s everywhere.

“Unfortunately we’ve got a number of very big employees who are taking advantage of this.”