Issues surrounding employment and the economy are set to feature heavily in the run up to this year’s General Election and so the Chancellor must be extremely pleased by the continuing fall in the number of people out of work. The UK’s unemployment rate now stands at 5.8% of the working population, its lowest level for more than 6 years and represents a remarkable turnaround for the UK economy.
Yet data released recently by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) about zero hours contracts shows that many of the jobs being created are low paid and offer little job security.
Zero hours contracts are highly controversial because of the fact that they offer no guarantee of work. Those working in this way often have no idea how many hours, if any, they will be working next week and the lack of a regular wage packet makes budgeting and managing bills extremely difficult. Those working in this way are also more likely to come from groups that traditionally perform poorly in the labour market. So more than half of them are women, roughly a third are aged 16–24 and 6% are over 65. Continue reading