The number of zero-hours contracts has gone up

Although they're still lower than their peak in 2015

The number of people on zero-hours contracts in the UK rose by 100,000 last year, but so did the number of people in all jobs.

What it means: A zero-hours contract is when your boss doesn't have to guarantee you a certain number of hours a week. They're popular in the service industries – you can read our coverage of when lots of McDonald's workers went on strike over them last year.

Although the total number of zero-hours contracts rose, as a proportion of the number of people in work, the number of zero-hours contracts remained the same (6 per cent). Zero hours contracts had been falling (they reached a peak of 2.1 million in 2015). Employers turned to the contracts in the years after the financial crisis – they were desperate for cheap labour, and workers were desperate for work. Since then, a number of employers have stopped using them after high profile scandals (like Sports Direct). And, economists had said, the fall in the unemployment rate means workers are in a better position to demand better conditions and pay ('cos it's not as easy to replace them).

Theresa May had promised more stable working conditions, but stopped short of banning the contracts outright. The Resolution Foundation (which wants to improve living conditions for people on low-incomes) said May is letting the 'tightness' of the labour market do her work for her, "rather than having a policy which helping people".

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Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?