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November 29, 2013

Zero hours contracts "unfairly demonised" – CIPD

Zero hours contracts "unfairly demonised" – CIPDA report on zero hours contracts by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) concludes that the practice has been "underestimated, oversimplified and in some cases, unfairly demonised".

And CIPD research finds that most people employed on these contracts are satisfied with their jobs.

The positive experience of the majority of people employed on zero hours contracts has been overlooked, according to the new research from the CIPD. Its survey of more than 2,500 workers has found that zero hours workers are just as satisfied with their job as the average UK employee, and more likely to be happy with their work-life balance.

Where zero hours contracts are being used for the right reasons and arrangements are properly managed, the CIPD research shows that they are providing flexibility that works for both organisations and individuals. Key findings include:

  • there are approximately one million people (3.1% of the UK workforce) employed on zero hours contracts;
  • zero hours workers, when compared to the average UK employee, are just as satisfied with their job (60% vs 59%), happier with their work-life balance (65% vs 58%), and less likely to think they are treated unfairly (27% vs 29%).

The research does identify areas of poor practice. For instance, one in five zero hours workers say they are sometimes (17%) or always (3%) penalised if they are not available for work. And almost half of zero hours workers say they receive no notice at all (40%) that work has been cancelled.

The CIPD has published new guidance in collaboration with law firm Lewis Silkin to help tackle the "poor level of understanding about employment rights among many employers and zero hours workers".

Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive, said: "The use of zero hours contracts in the UK economy has been underestimated, oversimplified and in some cases, unfairly demonised. The emphasis should be on improving management practice and enforcing existing regulation first, rather than bringing in new legislation. If we restrict the ability of employers and workers to manage their employment needs flexibly, the consequence is more likely to be a reduction in the number of jobs available in the economy."

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