Commenting on official statistics released today which showed the number of people working on zero hours contracts was 744,000 – or 2.4 per cent of the overall workforce, James Sproule, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors, said:
“Although zero hours contracts have drawn much political attention, only a very small proportion of the total workforce have one for their main job, less than 2.5 per cent of the total. It is also important to note that statisticians at the ONS say it is not possible to tell whether this is simply because of increased awareness created by media exposure.
“Zero hours contracts offer businesses and employees an important degree of flexibility. For skilled professionals, a degree of flexibility can boost their earning power, while flexibility also suits students and older people – the main users of zero hours contracts – who cannot commit to a set number of hours each and every week.
“Flexible working arrangements helped preserve jobs during the downturn and protected the UK from double-digit rates of unemployment. As businesses began to create jobs at a record pace, attention on the quality of those jobs and concerns around zero hours contracts boomed. This helped make sure practices like exclusivity clauses – something which run contrary to the very flexibility zero hours contracts were designed for – were stamped out.”