New research from the TUC has revealed that people on zero-hour contracts face further challenges than those in secure jobs, with such workers now more than twice as likely to work night shifts than any other person on the payroll.
Working nights has been found to have serious long-term impacts on health, increasing conditions like cancer and heart disease, and shortening life expectancy.
The TUC is now calling for a ban to be brought in where zero-hour contracts are concerned, with the government taking additional action to tackle exploitative and insecure work. Surveys from the organisation show that two-thirds of workers on these contracts would in fact prefer to be on permanent, secure ones instead.
Zero-hour workers are paid about a third less an hour than other staff members, despite the fact that 14 per cent are responsible for supervising other people. In all, 16 per cent do not have work every week and such employees work an average of 25 hours a week, compared to the average member of staff, who works 36.
Frances O’Grady, TUC General-Secretary, commented on the findings, saying: “The vast majority of people on zero-hour contracts want out. The only flexibility offered to them is what’s good for employers. Zero-hours workers regularly work through the night for low pay, putting their health at risk.
“And many face the constant uncertainty of not knowing when their next shift will come. We need action from government the now to stamp out these exploitative contracts once and for all.”
A zero-hour contract means that there are no guarantees of work and people are often left not knowing how many hours they’re going to work a week - if any. Those on such contracts may also not know when they’ll be working as bosses are able to move shifts about constantly, which makes it very difficult for people to plan their lives around their job.
Further TUC research shows that 51 per cent of zero-hours workers have had their shifts cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice, while 73 per cent have been offered work at less than 24 hours’ notice.
Not being contracted to work also makes it hard to claim sick pay when ill, or even holiday pay when you want to take a break. In all, just 12 per cent of such members of staff said that they receive sick pay.
The government recently introduced a right to request initiative, which means that more stable and predictable contracts can be set up after six months of working in a job. But the TUC argues that this is actually not right at all, since it gives people the option to ask for a contract but no right to receive one.
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