Zero-hours contract employees as happy as permanent, full-time employees
New survey evidence suggests that, on average, zero-hours contract employees experience similar levels of job satisfaction, work-life balance and personal well-being to employees on permanent, full-time contracts. The research from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, also finds that zero-hours contract (ZHC) employees report comparable satisfaction levels in their relationship with their managers and colleagues. However, the report also shows that, while the majority of zero-hours employees choose to work part-time, they are more likely than part-time employees as a whole to say they would like to work additional hours.
The research also updates the CIPD estimate of the number of employees on zero-hours contracts, which has increased from 1 million in 2013 to 1.3 million in 2015. Other key findings from the research, which draws on data from the ONS Labour Force Survey, the CIPD’s Employee Outlook survey and Labour Market Outlook surveys include:
Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, comments: “Zero-hours contracts are becoming a permanent feature of the UK labour market, but they are often characterised as offering low-quality work on unfair terms which is inferior to permanent, full-time contracts. Our research shows that zero-hours contracts employees don’t always see their jobs in such a negative light. On average, they find their jobs as satisfying as other employees which suggests that zero-hours contracts offer positives as well as negatives. One positive is the flexibility they can offer to employees who otherwise may not be able to find work that suits them, but less involvement in the workplace may be a negative. That’s why it’s important to understand that this type of working arrangement may not suit everyone.
“What our report highlights is that the contract type isn’t usually the main factor driving someone’s job satisfaction. How people are managed, the workload they are under and their relationship with their line manager are usually more important. We all want to see better working lives for everybody but if we simply focus on zero-hours contracts as the source of poor quality working lives, we risk ignoring the bigger systemic issues which create low skilled and low quality work.”
The report also points to areas where there is room for improvement in how employers use zero-hours contracts, particularly in terms of career progression and involvement. Less than half (43%) of ZHC employees feel fully or fairly well-informed about what is going on at work, compared with 56% of all employees. Also, a higher proportion of ZHC employees see fewer ways to progress and improve their skills, despite 82% of employers saying their ZHC staff are eligible for training and development.
The CIPD does not believe the available evidence provides enough justification for going beyond the ban on exclusivity clauses already enacted. It does argue that greater transparency on employment status is required and that some employers still need to develop proper, written procedures covering the cancellation of work and termination of a contract. Employees are currently entitled to a written statement of their terms and conditions within two months of commencing employment and the CIPD recommends a change in the law to extend this entitlement to all workers.
Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at the CIPD, comments: “In the operation of zero-hours contracts, as in all forms of employment, there is scope to improve practice. The key principle for the effective and ethical use of zero-hours contracts is that, wherever possible, the flexibility they offer should work for the individual as well as the employer. Well-managed zero-hours contracts can be an effective means of matching the needs and requirements of modern business and modern working lives, but as the numbers continue to rise, it’s important that employers understand how to make this match. And we’re seeing an increasing number of people on zero-hours contracts for long periods, years in some cases, so getting this match right is more important than ever.”
Full press release on www.cipd.co.uk
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