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Apr 11, 2013

Zero Hours Staff

Large Rise in the numbers of Zero Hours staff

The number of workers on contracts with no guarantee of regular hours or pay doubled to 200,000 during the last six months of 2012, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

The number of 'zero-hours' contracts has risen sharply in recent years, particularly in the retail and hospital industries. They are seen as a cost-effective way of meeting short-term staffing needs.

The contracts are now used by nearly a quarter of all UK employers, including some of the UK's largest firms. They typically allow firms to employ staff - often in low-paid jobs - who are 'on-call'. In turn, employees are able to turn down hours and work at other jobs.

The data casts a shadow on recent ONS figures that showed the number of people in employment had risen to 29.73 million during the final quarter of 2012 - the highest level since records began.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) says that zero-hours contracts can help solve fluctuating staffing needs but that they need 'careful management.'