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People with zero-hour contracts work more than twice as often in night shifts and receive one third less than an hour than other workers, according to the TUC.

After interviewing 3,287 workers – 300 of them zero-hour staff – the "exploitative" system came to the conclusion that it should be banned.

The flexibility that such contracts offer is only "good for the employer".

However, the government said a ban would "hit more people than it would help," arguing that zero hours worked well for students, caregivers, and retirees.

"They offer flexibility to both employers and individuals, such as caregivers, students or retirees," added a spokesperson for the Department of Commerce.

TUC Secretary General Frances O & #; Grady said, "the vast majority" of people who have zero-hour contracts, "want out".

"Zero-hour workers regularly work through the night for low wages, putting their health at risk, and many are in constant uncertainty about not knowing when their next shift will come," she added.

Flexibility or uncertainty?

The TUC's research is likely to reignite the debate on zero-hour contracts.

While the occasional contracts do not require employers to set a minimum working time, they do not require employees to accept one of the hours offered by their employer.

Workers on zero-hour contracts are still entitled to statutory annual leave and the national minimum wage.

Although such contracts have been controversially discussed, many indicate that they offer flexibility to people such as students, parents, and other caregivers.

However, critics say that non-standard work contracts create insecurity for workers and are used by employers to undercut wages and avoid holiday pay and pension contributions.

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The TUC says its research indicates that two-thirds of zero-hour workers would prefer jobs with guaranteed working hours.

The research also suggests:

  • The average pre-tax hourly pay for a zero-hour contract was £ 7.70 versus £ 11.80 for other workers
  • It was found that 23% of zero-hour contracts have night work as a standard part of their work pattern, compared to 11% of other workers

The union's investigation was based on the analysis of the latest official data on zero-hour contracts.

The data show that such contracts have around 780,000, which is 2.4% of the working population.

Individuals with such contracts tend to fall into one or more of four categories – young people, part-time, women or full-time education.