TUC: Zero-hours contracts allow bosses to treat workers like “disposable labour”

16 Mar 2017 12:50 PM

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady commented on figures published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics, which show that the number of people on zero-hours contracts has increased by 13% over the past year

“Zero-hours contracts allow bosses to treat workers like disposable labour.

“If you’re on a zero-hours contract you have no guarantee of work from one day to another. Put a foot wrong and you can be let go in a heartbeat. Turn down a shift because your kid’s sick and you can be left with little or no work.

“That’s why employment law needs dragging law into the 21st century. Far too many workers do not have the power to challenge bad working conditions.

“Zero-hours contracts can be a nightmare to plan your life around. And are a huge drain on the public finances.

“The growth in zero-hours working over the last decade is costing the government almost £2bn a year.”

The TUC estimates that the growth of zero-hours working is costing the exchequer £1.9bn a year. This is because zero-hours contract workers earn significantly less than regular employees and therefore:

Median pay for a zero-hours worker is a third (£3.50) less an hour than for an average employee.

The TUC is launching a new initiative for workers to share their experiences of insecure work anonymously. The findings of the survey will be presented in May.

View report:  People in employment on a zero-hours contract: Mar 2017 (Latest release)

Notes to Editors:

Fiscal impact of and ZHC working



Income tax




Tax credits and benefits




Median hourly pay

Zero-hours worker

All employees




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