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Ian Brinkley
Economic Advisor

Flexibility or insecurity? Exploring the rise in zero hours contracts

Flexibility or insecurity? Exploring the rise in zero hours contracts

Ian Brinkley
28 August 2013

Whatever the hard numbers tell us, zero hours contracts (ZHCs) have come to symbolise a wider concern that the labour market is moving towards more contingent, less secure, and more exploitative forms of employment at a time when in many areas jobs are scarce and people have little choice over taking whatever work is available. This report which further develops some of the key stats displayed in our infographic and some of the points raised from our event – takes data from both the Labour Force Survey, the Workplace Employment Relations Survey and the CIPD’s latest data – and covers:

  • the nature of zero hours contracts and some issues of employment law;

  • health warnings about the use of official statistics;

  • the wider labour market context, looking at levels of regulation, the role of labour market intermediaries, the growth of non-standard employment, and the extent and nature of flexible working;

  • a cross-sectional analysis of some characteristics of zero hours contracts, using the latest available data and other evidence for 2012;

  • how zero hours contracts have changed over time, comparing 1997 with 2012;

  • and recommendations for policy and organisational responses.


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