Recent official figures have shown the number of people working on a zero-hours contract has fallen for the first time since 2010, while other findings suggest the number of jobseekers looking for such work has risen.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that in the second quarter of 2017, the number of people on zero-hours contracts fell to 883,000: the first drop since 2010.
However, research published by job site Indeed indicates that among jobseekers the popularity of zero-hours jobs actually increased during the same period. In fact, between January and August, the proportion of jobhunters searching for ‘zero-hour’ or ‘no contract’ jobs rose by 18%.
July saw the highest figures, and between May and June there was a staggering 23% month-on-month increase in the proportion of searches for zero-hour jobs.
Typical zero-hour contract roles include delivery drivers, hospitality workers, sports instructors, factory workers and seasonal positions.
Zero-hours contracts, which don’t guarantee the employee any set number of working hours, have become a controversial issue in recent times, while the Government has faced repeated calls to do more to regulate their use by Britain’s booming ‘gig economy’.
Indeed’s research comes as the ONS revealed that only a small fraction (6%) of those currently on a zero-hours contract want a new job with longer hours, suggesting that despite the controversy surrounding them, zero-hours contracts do have their fans.
EMEA economist at Indeed, Mariano Mamertino, commented: ‘’Zero-hours contracts are deeply polarising. Whether you see them as exploitative or empowering, one thing has held true over the past few years – the number of them has increased steadily.
“So the ONS’s revelation that this trend may have reversed is hugely significant. Yet Indeed’s data suggests that not only does a proportion of jobseekers still want zero-hours contracts, but their number is increasing. Time after time, flexibility comes up as a crucial factor people look for in a job, which may go some way to explaining zero-hour contracts’ continued popularity among jobseekers.’’