Zero hour workers forced to pick up the night shifts rejected by everyone else

Zero-hours workers are twice as likely to work night shifts than other workers, a new report claims.

The TUC said almost one in four regularly work through the night, compared with one in 10 of the rest of the workforce.

It said desperate workers – who are on average paid around £4.10 less an hour than their colleagues – are forcing themselves into the toughest shifts to earn money.

The findings come just months after the Government vowed to push through new rights – including paid leave – for millions of zero-hour-contract workers in the UK.

Under new legislation, members of staff, including agency workers will have to, by law, be told of their rights from the first day of a job, including whether they qualify for paid leave .

Meanwhile everyone will have their holiday pay calculated over 52 rather than 12 weeks.

Current figures show one in seven zero-hour workers (16%) do not have work each week.

Meanwhile those that are employed work an average 25 hours a week, compared to the average worker, who works 36 hours a week.

According to the TUC, two-thirds of zero-hours workers would prefer to be on permanent, secure contracts than ad-hoc shifts.

It’s now calling for a ban on zero-hour contracts, the introduction of reasonable notice periods for shifts, and for workers to be paid for cancelled shifts.

However, the Government said scrapping zero hour contracts would hurt more people than it helped.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The vast majority of people on zero-hour contracts want out. The only flexibility offered to them is what’s good for employers.

“Zero-hours workers regularly work through the night for low pay, putting their health at risk. And many face the constant uncertainty of not knowing when their next shift will come.

“We need action from government the now to stamp out these exploitative contracts once and for all.”

In its ‘Good Work Plan’, the Government is setting out what it describes as the biggest package of workplace reforms for more than 20 years to meet the changing world of employment.

Legislation is being introduced to give workers details of their rights from the first day in a job, such as eligibility for sick leave and pay and details of other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity.

Measures will also be taken to ensure that seasonal workers get the paid time off they are entitled to.

The Government said it was taking forward 51 of the 53 recommendations made by Matthew Taylor in his review into employment, especially in the so-called gig economy .

A statement said: "The reforms announced today reflect the views expressed by Matthew Taylor in his review into Modern Working Practice that banning zero hours contracts in their totality would negatively impact more people than it helped; that the flexibility of ‘gig working’ is not incompatible with ensuring atypical workers have access to employment and social security protections."

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Employment rights

  • What is the minimum wage?
  • Understanding zero-hour contracts
  • What to tell your boss you’re ill
  • What to do if you’re made redundant
  • Sick pay – how does it work?
  • Should I get paid for my time commuting?
  • Workplace discrimination over of weight
  • Annual leave for zero-hours workers

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