Underemployed versus zero hours contracts

30 April 2015

Zero-hours contracts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to low-paid and insecure jobs, according to new analysis published by the TUC.

The analysis shows that in addition to the 700,000 workers who report being on zero-hours contracts, there are another 820,000 UK employees who report being underemployed on between 0 and 19 hours a week.

The TUC says that while zero-hours contracts have dominated the media headlines, short hours-contracts, along with other forms of insecure work, are also blighting the lives of many workers.

Underemployed short-hours workers are typically paid a much lower hourly rate than other employees. The average hourly wage for a short-hours worker on fewer than 20 hours a week is £8.40 an hour, compared to £13.20 an hour for all employees.

The TUC says that short-hours contracts, which can guarantee as little as one hour a week, can allow employers to get out of paying national insurance contributions.

The average underemployed short-hours worker would have to work more than 18 hours a week for their employer to start having to pay national insurance for their employment.

The TUC says that like zero-hours workers, many short-hours workers don’t know how many shifts they will get each week and often have to compete with colleagues for extra hours.

Read the full press release from the TUC.