Zero hours contracts may be far more widespread than thought

ZERO hours contracts are far more widespread than previously thought, according to research out today that suggests 1m Britons may be employed this way.

The contracts provide more flexible working but potentially allow employers to cut back the number of working hours they offer employees at short notice. Despite fears such staff suffer irregular pay packets, just 14 per cent of employees on zero hours contracts said their employer regularly fails to give them enough hours.

The initial findings of a study by the CIPD – the industry body for HR professionals – suggests a fifth of employers have at least one worker employed on a zero hours contract.

Employers in the voluntary and public sector are far more likely to use such contracts than their private sector equivalents, although the research shows they are most common in the hospitality industry.

“Zero hours contracts can play a positive role in creating more flexible working opportunities,” said CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese.

“[But] this may be a significant disadvantage where they need more certainty in their working hours and earnings.”

The research involved polling employers and zero hours workers and was carried out by YouGov.