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posted on 17 March 2016

The Rise Of The Zero-hours Contract

by Felix Richter,

-- this post authored by Martin Armstrong

On Friday, ministers from across the political spectrum in New Zealand voted to ban the use of zero-hours contracts.

Employees working under such an arrangement have no guaranteed minimum number of working hours. While they are also not obliged to accept any work offered to them, this flexible yet highly unreliable form of employment is much criticised and described by some as exploitative. Despite this, in the UK from 2000 to 2015 there was a net increase of of 576,000 in employees working on a zero-hours contract. The 801,000 employees in 2015 represented 2.5% of the entire workforce in the United Kingdom.

The industries using zero-hours contracts to the greatest extent were accommodation and food (189,000) and health and social work (179,000). The landmark decision made in New Zealand is being hailed by many, including the UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who wrote on Twitter:

"Zero-hour contracts have been banned in New Zealand - look what's possible when you put your mind to it "

Whether the ban will lead to a wave of politicians really putting their minds to the further abolition of the practice remains as yet to be seen.

This chart shows the number of employees with a zero-hours contract in the UK from 2000 to 2015.

Infographic: The rise of the zero-hours contract | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista.

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