Zero-hours - not so bad after all

Peter Thomson's picture

The issue of zero-hours contracts has been the subject of widespread political debate and generated a mass of media headlines over the last few months. The CIPD have just released a report that sets out the debate and explores the issues using research based data from the Labour Market Outlook. (see

They conclude that the use of zero-hours contracts in the UK has been underestimated, oversimplified and unfairly demonised. Their research finds that the positive experience of the majority of people employed on these contracts has been overlooked.

A key point made in the report is "The context for zero-hours working is a long-term trend towards more flexible and diverse forms of work capable of meeting the needs of employers and individuals." This supprts the argument in Future Work, that we are moving into an era of flexible/agile working arrangements and that innovations such a zero-hours need to be seen as a step in that direction.

What matters is choice and good management. Recession brought a growth in insecure zero-hours contracts, which do not guarantee any work and only pay for actual hours worked. If they are managed well, and people have a choice, they can be a convenient form of flexibility for both individuals and employers. If they are forced on employees against their will, they amount to exploitation.


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