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Zero-hours contracts on the decline in hospitality

By Sophie Witts , 11-Mar-2016
Last updated on 11-Mar-2016 at 17:23 GMT2016-03-11T17:23:58Z

Zero-hours contracts on the decline in hospitality

The number of hospitality businesses employing staff on zero-hours contracts has halved since 2014, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Twenty-six per cent of restaurants, hotels and pubs made use of the contracts at the end of 2015, down from 53 per cent in 2014.

However, the hospitality industry still has the highest number of businesses employing staff on contracts with no guaranteed minimum hours compared to any other sector.

Kate Nicholls, chairman of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) said the drop in numbers suggested that there was 'greater engagement' between bosses and staff in the sector, with more employees being moved on to other contracts.  

But the ONS said that there was ‘nothing to suggest this form of employment is in decline’, with the overall number of people employed on a zero-hour basis rising to 800,000 in the UK in 2015, up from 697,000 in 2014.

Flexible or unfair?

The contracts remain a contentious issue as they offer workers no guaranteed minimum working hours, but provide a flexibility to hospitality businesses employing staff on a seasonal basis.

On average, someone on a zero-hours contract usually works 26 hours a week. But according to ONS research, around one in three people on the contracts want to work more hours in their current job.

Nicholls said: “We have seen a certain amount of negativity in the media regarding zero-hours contracts, but it is important to remember that there is only ever a problem if these contracts are abused.

"Zero-hours contracts have an important role to play as they offer flexibility for both employers and employees, particularly with those people looking to study and work, or interested in part-time employment."

Women, young people and those in full-time education are more likely to be on zero-hours contracts compared with other people in employment.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), said: “Flexible working contracts play a positive role in the UK economy, reflective of the needs of our modern society.

“Hospitality alone employs 2.9m people in the UK, the fourth largest industry, and offers a wide range of opportunities for people looking for flexible working structures to suit them.” 

The study was based on ONS surveys carried out from 11-25 May and 9-23 November last year.