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An Investigation on the Widespread Use of Zero Hours Contracts in the UK and the Impact on Workers

Gheyoh Ndzi, Ernestine (2021) An Investigation on the Widespread Use of Zero Hours Contracts in the UK and the Impact on Workers. International Journal of Law and Society, 4 (2). pp. 140-149.

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Abstract

The use of zero hours contract (ZHC) amongst employers in the UK continue to grow with little or no job security. There has been growing concern on how this type of employment contract is affecting workers socially, economically, health and otherwise. Existing research on ZHC focuses on low paid jobs, hence the importance of this study. The aim of this paper is to investigate how ZHC affect the worker with a focus on establishing the difference in experience between workers from across different sectors. Data for the study is obtained from conducting thirty-six semi-structured interviews with people working on ZHC. Participants for the study worked in health, education, hospitality, security, construction, and retail sectors, to understand if worker’s experience might differ based on the sector in which they work. The result demonstrated that the use of ZHC contract has spread to sectors such as education (lecturing jobs) which are generally considered as high skilled jobs as opposed to prevalence of ZHC in low skilled jobs as documented by previous research. Flexibility remained the key element of ZHC that all the workers enjoyed and would like to retain. However, the uncertainty and insecurity of the contract affects workers financial stability, social and family life, job quality and satisfaction; career progression and health. The negative impact of ZHC is largely the same with workers in lecturing job driven by insecurity and uncertainty. Although workers in the education sector (teaching staff) reported knowing their schedule for a semester or academic year, issues such as the lack of opportunities for career progression, no/limited training provided where required, stress and anxiety relating to the insecurity and uncertainties remain a growing concern. The use of ZHC contract in sectors such as education (lecturing jobs) which are generally considered as high skilled jobs is concerning and demonstrate how precarious the United Kingdom’s labour market is increasing becoming insecure.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.11648/j.ijls.20210402.21
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
School/Department: York Business School
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5361

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