Increase in Zero-hour contracts could be thin end of the wedge unless employers are held to account says STUC

August 11th 2020

Increase in Zero-hour contracts could be thin end of the wedge unless employers are held to account says STUC

August 11th 2020

The STUC has called on bar, restaurant and accommodation workers to monitor employers and share information with colleagues as figures released today indicate a shortage of work and increase in zero hours contracts that risks putting workers even more at the mercy of bosses.

According to figures released by the Office of National Statistics, Scotland’s employment rate now matches the worst performing English region, at less than 75%. This figure includes the number employed on a zero hour contract, which has increased by over 18% to 83,000 in the last year. Figures also show that across the UK, almost a third of zero hours workers want to work more than the hours they are on.

The STUC has also pointed to figures showing that over half of people on zero hour contracts have not been working long enough to be entitled to statutory pay, processes and notice periods if they are sacked, following a significant rise in the number of zero hours workers who have been employed for less than two years, the minimum length required to access current redundancy rights. The Better Than Zero campaign has been visiting pubs, restaurants and other businesses to speak to workers and ensure that workers have decent pay and hours as well as the legal health and safety requirements for establishments that are reopening. Across a range of chains, campaigners heard from workers that there had been staff cuts of 60%, demands that they sign zero hours contracts, and wage changes that resulted in successful legal action against bosses.

STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said:

“Workers are well aware that the increase in precarious employment might give opportunistic employers the chance it wants to slash staff and conditions. If you are a boss and you are thinking along these lines, you should know that you are being monitored, and that if you take advantage of precarious conditions to make staff redundant or shift them to zero hours contracts, you may well find yourself facing serious consequences.

“The Better Than Zero campaign has already supported workers across the country to get their due where bosses have sought to manipulate tough times, such as in the case of Coias Café in Glasgow where workers who were unfairly sacked came together, organised, and last week won pay-outs amounting to thousands of pounds.

“While the UK Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme puts employers first, not enough is being done by the UK or Scottish Government to ensure workers are empowered to look after their interests. At the very least, Government should find a way to make the scheme conditional on workers being able to meet and discuss their working conditions without a manager present.”


ONS figures show that:

31.2% of people on zero hours contracts have been working less than 12 months and 19.7% more than 1 year but less than two = 50.9% working less than 1 years.

Almost a third of people (29.2%) on zero hours contracts across the UK want to work more.

Scotland’s employment rate is as low as the worst performing English region at 74.3%.

For more information including on specific businesses alleged to have poor practice, contact Cailean Gallagher at


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