- Nick Elvin
Zero-hours contract employees experience similar levels of job satisfaction, work-life balance and personal well-being to employees on permanent, full-time contracts, according to new research from the CIPD.
The study by the professional body for HR and people development also finds that zero-hours contract (ZHC) employees report comparable satisfaction levels in their relationship with their managers and colleagues. However, the report also shows that, while the majority of zero-hours employees choose to work part-time, they are more likely than part-time employees as a whole to say they would like to work additional hours.
The proportion of zero-hours contract employees who are either very satisfied or satisfied with their jobs is 65%, compared to 63% for all employees. Zero-hours contract employees are also more likely to say they have the right work-life balance (62% compared to 58% for all employees) and less likely to feel under excessive pressure at work every day or at least once or twice a week (32% compared to 41% for all employees).
Nine in ten part-time zero-hours employees (88%) say they choose to work part time but 22% of these voluntary would like to work more hours, compared to 18% of for all voluntary part-time employees.
The report also presents the first comparable data for employees on short-hour contracts (those where employees are guaranteed up to eight hours work per week) and shows that short-hours employees have an especially positive view of their situation with 74% agreeing they have the right work-life balance. Also, just 14% feel under excessive pressure at work at least once or twice a week, compared to 41% of all employees.
The research also updates the CIPD estimate of the number of employees on zero-hours contracts, which has increased from one million in 2013 to 1.3 million in 2015.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: “Zero-hours contracts are becoming a permanent feature of the UK labour market, but they are often characterized as offering low quality work on unfair terms which is inferior to permanent, full-time contracts. Our research shows that zero-hours contracts employees don’t always see their jobs in such a negative light. On average, they find their jobs as satisfying as other employees which suggests that zero-hours contracts offer positives as well as negatives.
“One positive is the flexibility they can offer to employees who otherwise may not be able to find work that suits them, but less involvement in the workplace may be a negative. That’s why it’s important to understand that this type of working arrangement may not suit everyone.
“What our report highlights is that the contract type isn’t usually the main factor driving someone’s job satisfaction. How people are managed, the workload they are under and their relationship with their line manager are usually more important. We all want to see better working lives for everybody but if we simply focus on zero-hours contracts as the source of poor quality working lives, we risk ignoring the bigger systemic issues which create low skilled and low quality work.”
The report also points to areas where there is room for improvement in how employers use zero-hours contracts, particularly in terms of career progression and involvement. Less than half (43%) of ZHC employees feel fully or fairly well-informed about what is going on at work, compared with 56% of all employees. Also, a higher proportion of ZHC employees see fewer ways to progress and improve their skills, despite 82% of employers saying their ZHC staff are eligible for training and development.