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Workers on zero-hours contracts earn less than permanent staff

Staff employed on zero-hours contracts earn on average around £300 per week less than those on permanent terms, according to a report by the TUC.

The paper The Decent Jobs Deficit: The human cost of zero-hours working in the UK, suggests the average weekly pay for zero-hours workers is £188, significantly less than the £479 average for permanent employees.

The report also quotes Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures that suggest there are around 1.4 million people on zero-hours contracts in the UK.

The growing use of the contracts, coupled with the lower pay and lack of security, led TUC general-secretary Frances O'Grady to warn of a "two-tier workforce" in which the lowest-paid miss out on even the most basic employment rights.

"The growth of zero-hours contracts, along with other forms of precarious employment, is one of the main reasons why working people have seen their living standards worsen significantly in recent years," she said.

“It is shocking that so many workers employed on these kind of contracts are on poverty pay and miss out on things that most of us take for granted, like sick pay.”

The report makes a number of recommendations to address the issues raised. They include rewarding zero-hours workers for the added flexibility they provide to employers, often at the expense of their own hours and pay.

It also sets out plans to ensure all staff are offered permanent contracts unless they specifically request zero-hours terms. The report suggests the number of workers on zero-hours terms who can't find permanent work has increased from 19% in 2008 to 41% in 2014.

O'Grady warned that if the UK doesn't start creating more well-paid jobs with increased security it will lead to a high number of people stuck in "working poverty".