Zero-hours workers happy with work-life balance, study says

Workers on zero-hours contracts are more likely to be happy with their work-life balance than other employees, according to a new study.

The report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the professional body for human resources managers, said the use of zero-hours contracts had been “unfairly demonised”.

Widespread use of such contracts, which contain no set minimum hours, has caused controversy. The CIPD estimates that 1m people, or 3.1 per cent of the workforce, are on them.

Its study, which covered 2,000 workers, found that those on zero hours were just as happy with their job as the average worker and were more content with their work-life balance.

Just over half of the 456 zero-hours workers questioned said they did not want more hours, with 38 per cent saying they did. Four out of five said they were never penalised if unavailable for work.

The findings came as Vince Cable, business secretary, prepares to launch a consultation on curbing abuses of zero-hours contracts. Observers believe the issue has caused tension in Whitehall because a tough regulatory line could raise public spending.

Moves to curb zero-hours arrangements among care workers, a vulnerable group, could raise the price of care contracts at a time when Whitehall is squeezing local council budgets.

The CIPD said efforts to address poor practice should focus on encouraging employers to use contracts responsibly rather than restricting their use through regulation, which would simply lead them to use other forms of casual labour.

Steve Radley, policy director at the EEF manufacturers’ organisation, said: “With skills in scarce supply, zero hours help employers to tap into specialist skills when they are needed and to draw on the experience of older workers.”

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