Some workers on zero-hour contracts have been threatened with not being given shifts in the future if they turn down work, according to new research.
The TUC, a national trade union centre, said everyone deserves some certainty about the hours they work each week.
Despite the number falling by 50,000, from last year, 850,000 workers remain on zero-hour contracts - according to the government’s latest statistics.
The TUC said it’s often argued that zero-hour contracts offer flexibility for both the employer and the employee, but many workers say this is an illusion – it is a one-way flexibility for the employer.
The government’s response to the Taylor Review was to introduce the ‘right to request’ a more stable and predictable contract after six months in the job. The trade union centre said it has repeatedly said the ‘right to request’ is no right at all. It provides workers with the option to ask, but no right to receive, so the power dynamic remains firmly in favour of the employer.
A TUC-commissioned poll of workers on zero-hour contracts found that 51 percent of workers have had shifts cancelled at less than 24 hours’ notice, and 35 percent have been threatened with not being given shifts in the future if they turn down work.
In addition, the poll found only one in eight people on zero-hour contracts get sick pay, only one in 14 would get redundancy pay, and 47 percent do not get written terms and conditions.
The TUC said workers on zero-hour contracts also suffer a pay penalty; they have an average hourly pay rate of £7.70, compared to £11.80 for those not on zero-hour contracts.
It added that those on zero-hour contracts are often trapped in jobs that are so insecure they’re unable to plan childcare or their finances and that’s why it’s calling for an outright ban on zero-hour contracts.
The TUC said: “They deserve a contract that reflects the reality of their working life and provides them with employment rights that should be a given, such as sick pay and holiday pay.”
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