According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of zero-hours contracts increased to 1.8 million in 2017. This was 100,000 more than in 2016, meaning that more people do not have a minimum number of guaranteed hours and are struggling to maintain a steady income.
This figure is still short of the 2015 peak, which saw 2.1 million people in zero-hours contracts, however it indicates a rise which goes against the government promise to protect people from insecure work.
Zero-hours contracts mean that an employer can cancel shifts last minute and leave employees out of work and unpaid for unscheduled periods of time.
This comes after recent figures from the ONS that indicate unemployment in the UK has decreased to the lowest levels since 1975, at 4.2%.
Nonetheless, it is clear that zero-hour positions are still prominent with many feeling undervalued. 25% of zero-hours workers want to work more hours, with 50% suffering from last minute shift cancellations.
Unions want to make sure that zero-hour contracts are reduced in light of this progress, and the Labour party wants them scrapped altogether.
In February, Theresa May promised that workers would have the right to ask for a more stable contract according to the ‘Good Work plan’. It also details plans to enforce day-one rights which includes holiday and sick pay entitlements and a right to a payslip for all workers, as well as making sure vulnerable workers receive holiday and sick pay for the first time.
This comes after the Taylor Review, independently commissioned by the government and undertaken by Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, detailed recommendations to improve UK worker/employer conditions and rights.
As part of this plan, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will work with the business community, labour market experts, and trade unions to ensure the Taylor Review is adhered to.
Under the ‘Good Work plan’ it is hoped that greater transparency will make sure all workers and employers understand their rights and responsibilities moving forward.
If you are unsure of your employment status, this Asac guide will help you determine whether you are self-employed, an employee or a worker.
It is important to contact an expert employment solicitor if you have been treated unfairly by your employer or you have a contractual dispute.
Anthony Thompson is a Director in the employment department at Duncan Lewis, with over 20 years’ experience advising and supporting businesses and individuals on all employment matters including drafting contracts policies; assisting with performance and absence management; advising on disciplinary, grievance and discrimination investigations; negotiating severance arrangements (including advising on settlement agreements); whistleblowing; and managing litigation in the employment tribunal and the High Court.
Anthony advises on non-contentious issues including redundancy, contract variation and outsourcing exercises and TUPE. As an advocate he has achieved notable successes representing clients in the employment tribunals, negotiating significant settlements at private and judicial mediations.
For expert advice on any employment matter, call Anthony on 020 7014 7343 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duncan Lewis Employment Solicitors
Duncan Lewis employment lawyers act on behalf of claimants and respondents in all Employment Tribunal related matters in a variety of areas including unfair dismissal, redundancy, breach of contract, equal pay, maternity and paternity/adoption rights, whistleblowing and minimum wage.
We also have solicitors who offer expert guidance on the Working Time Regulations, health and safety, discrimination and the Equality Act 2010, settlement agreements, disciplinary and grievance procedures restrictive covenants and TUPE.
Our employment law specialists can represent all types of employers, large and small – as well as individual employees and groups of employees.