ONS warns zero hours contracts figures mislead

Oliver Smith
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STATISTICS showing a dramatic increase in zero-hours contracts in the UK were claimed to be misleading by the government office that published them.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday urged caution on reading its report that 583,000 UK workers were on zero-hour contracts – more than double the original 250,000 estimate from last year – due to the influence that the media’s coverage of the contracts has had on its research.

“ONS recognises that this question depends on employees correctly knowing their terms of employment, and that increased awareness of zero-hours contracts among employees may have affected how people respond following increased media coverage in the latter half of 2013,” the ONS said yesterday.

While zero-hours contracts that guarantee no set hours have remained a source of controversy in recent years, in November the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development revealed that employees on zero-hours contracts were equally satisfied with their jobs as other employees.

Sports Direct, McDonalds and Wetherspoons all used the contracts for the vast majority of their staff last year.

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