60,000 Scots struggling on zero-hours contracts as UK figures shoot up by more than a quarter


Sharp rise in zero-hours contracts figures raises fresh concerns on plight of workers struggling with low pay

Sixty thousand people in Scotland are struggling on zero-hours contracts as their main mode of employment, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The latest figures show that the number of people in the UK as a whole working main jobs on zero hours contracts – an employment method which does not guarantee staff any work and limits employment benefits – went up by more than a quarter in a year to an estimated 679,000.

The number of zero hours contracts has increased from around 1.4 million in 2013 to 1.8 million in 2014, although trade unions are warning that the true figures could be higher.

Controversial zero-hours contracts enable employers to hire workers without any guarantee of income. The method means workers often have no access to sick pay and other employment benefits.

According to the ONS, around 2.3 per cent of all people in employment are now on zero-hours contracts, an increase from 1.9 per cent the previous year.

Big business employers in Britain known to use zero-hours contracts include JD Wetherspoon, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Sports Direct and McDonald’s.

Peter Kelly, director of The Poverty Alliance, was quoted in the Herald as saying: “Low quality, low wage work is rising, and in-work poverty is growing with it.

“If the economic recovery is not to repeat the mistakes of the past, we must ensure that equality is built into the fabric of our economy.”

Unions and campaigners have been raising the alarm in recent times over increasingly desparate circumstances for those on low incomes.

While foodbank use throughout the UK has been on the rise since the UK Government’s sharp austerity drive began, it’s not only the unemployed being forced to reach out for help from starvation.

Workers living on low wages struggling with rising costs, and problems such as zero-hours contracts, have also turned to foodbanks for help.

Picture courtesy of Paul Downey