Professor Kim Hoque said: “What the CIPD do not report in their research is whether people on zero-hours contracts are more likely to be people for whom erratic hours may present less of a work-life balance problem – older workers or the young and childless, for example. If so, this could explain their findings.
Prof: Hoque continues: “Were the analysis instead to limit the comparison between zero-hours workers and traditional workers to people with childcare responsibilities, it is not impossible that this would reveal a different picture. With regard to this, more than half of employers in the CIPD survey report that the working patterns of their zero-hours workers are driven primarily by fluctuations in demand, while only eight per cent of respondents say they are driven by the needs of individual workers. Given the apparent limited consideration of individual needs, it is hard to see how this can be good for the work-life balance of people with childcare responsibilities.
“The finding that 38 per cent of workers on zero-hours contracts would like to have more hours is also worrying. This compares with a figure of about 11 per cent of people across the economy as a whole who say they would like to work more hours. This suggests there are substantive differences between zero-hours contracts and standard contracts, and that zero hours contracts are a significant part of the UK’s general underemployment problem. This could also contribute to muted jobs growth as the economy picks up, as employers may choose to offer more hours of work to people on zero-hours contracts rather than taking on new staff.”