Employment

Young and female workers bear the brunt of zero-hours contracts rise

The figures from an ONS report also show a 100,000 rise in zero-hours contracts in 2017

Unite the union protesters outside the Sports Direct flagship store on Oxford Street in London as the troubled retailer has been accused of reneging on a promise to offer guaranteed hours to staff on zero hour contracts in a fresh blow to the company ahead of its annual meeting.

Women make up more than half of workers on zero-hours contracts in Britain, according to a new report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS said that of the 1.8 million workers without a minimum number of guaranteed hours in 2017, 98,6400 (54.7 per cent) were women.

ONS

Younger people are also more likely to report being on a zero-hours contract, with 36 per cent of the total aged between 16 and 24 years old.

“People on “zero-hours contracts” are more likely to be young, part-time, women or in full-time education when compared with other people in employment,” found the ONS.

These young women are typically in low paid sectors, according to the Young Women’s Trust, such as retail or care, and the food and accommodation industry which makes up 22.6 per cent of those on a zero-hours contract itself.

Flexible working has to benefit the employee, not just the employer

Problems with planning, budgeting and childcare were just some of the challenges young working women are facing when on a zero-hours contract according to the trust.

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said:

“Our research shows that three in ten young women have been offered zero-hours contracts – and many worry about having enough hours. Budgeting, paying your bills and planning ahead can be impossible when you don’t know how many hours you will be working or how much money you will have coming in each month. For some, an inability to balance precarious shifts with childcare can make working impossible.

“Flexible working has to benefit the employee, not just the employer. Providing stable, secure jobs would not only help workers, but businesses and the economy too.”

The 100,000 rise in zero-hours contracts in 2017 has bucked the trend of their falling use, as they dropped to 1.4 million in the same ONS report from September last year.

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