Half of those out of work are refusing zero hours contracts

Half of those out of work are refusing to sign zero hours contracts.

Almost half of those that have been offered a zero hours contract have turned it down, according to research from employer review specialist Glassdoor. 

The company’s survey of 1,000 employees found that of the one in four unemployed adults that have been offered a zero hours contract, 47% did not take it up.

The main reason for this is the lack of guaranteed income that comes with such contracts – more than half (54%) of those surveyed said that it was not worth the gamble, because in order to stop receiving benefits a certain level of salary is required.

Another reason (at 44%) is the “significant level of distrust” towards the employers offering them, while irregular working hours (30%) and negative press (13%) is also putting people off.

Despite the fact that, according to the Office for National Statistics, nearly 700,000 people are on zero hours contracts, they have proved a contentious issue since their introduction.

Some employers argue that they like to use them to build a more flexible workforce. However, unions have raised concerns that employees are being taken advantage of as they are not guaranteed how many hours they will be working from one week to the next.

The report’s findings seem to corroborate this, with 45% saying that they think such contracts are exploitative, 39% wanting to see them banned altogether, and 34% feeling that they are only beneficial to employers.

Jon Ingham, Glassdoor career and workplace expert, said: “People that take zero hours contracts generally do so because they feel they have to rather than they want to. This could be interpreted as employers exploiting the most vulnerable, namely people who really need the money.”

There are not many positive reasons behind why the remaining half accepted zero hours contracts, according to Glassdoor, with 69% citing financial reasons, 37% saying they “had no choice”, and 27% wanting the work experience.

However, one in 10 said they would prefer to be in work than claim benefits, and one in five liked the flexibility that a zero hours contract offered.

Worryingly, one in five of those surveyed did not even know what a zero hours contract was, possibly putting this group at risk of exploitation more than anyone else. This figure is higher in London (at 28%) and lower in the Midlands (13%).

Age and length of employment were also deciding factors. According to the survey, the 25- to 34-year-old age group is most likely to accept a zero hours contract, with those aged 55 or older least likely.

The probability of rejecting such a contract rises with the amount of time an individual has been out of work, with the following saying no to zero hours:

  • 25% of those that have been unemployed for between 6 and 12 months;
  • 33% of those unemployed for between one and two years; and
  • 76% of those that have been unemployed for more than 10 years.
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