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Union warning over zero-hours contract health risks

18 February 2019

A UNION has warned that zero-hours workers are paid less and are at increased risks of ill-health than other workers.

New TUC analysis has found that zero-hour workers do double the night shifts and are paid on average £4 an hour less than other workers. According to recent official figures, there are 80,000 people in the South West whose main job is a zero-hour contract.

The TUC has also conducted new analysis that shows zero-hours workers are having a tougher time than those in secure employment. The finding include:

  • Night shifts – Nearly a quarter (23%) of zero-hours contracts workers regularly do night shifts, compared to one in ten of the rest of the workforce. Night-working has been linked to heart disease, shortened life expectancy and higher risk of cancer;
  • Lower wages – Zero-hours contract workers are on average paid around a third (£4.10) less an hour than other workers. This is despite 12% of zero-hours workers being supervisors and managers;
  • Lack of work – One in seven zero-hour workers (16%) do not have work each week. And they work on average 25 hours a week, compared to average workers, who work 36 hours a week; and
  • Stress – Not knowing if you will get work next week and being paid low wages have a significant impact on mental health according to union polling

TUC Regional Secretary for the South West Nigel Costley said: “Too many of Cornwall’s workers have to rely on insecure employment and the worst are zero-hours contracts. The vast majority of people on zero-hours contracts want out. The only flexibility offered, is flexibility that works for employers.

“Zero-hour workers regularly work for low pay, including through the night, which puts their health at risk. Many also face the constant uncertainty of not knowing when their next shift will come which adds to their financial struggles.”

“We need the government to stamp out these unfair contracts. Working people in the region need solid jobs, with guaranteed hours so they can provide for a decent family life.”