Zero-hours workers earn nearly £300 a week less, on average, than permanent employees, according to a new report published today.

The Decent Jobs Deficit: The Human Cost of Zero-Hours Working and Casual Labour shows that average weekly earnings for zero-hours workers are just £188, compared to £479 for permanent workers.

Commenting on the report, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“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.”

The research also reveals that zero-hours workers are five times more likely not to qualify for statutory sick pay than permanent workers as a result of their lower level of take home pay.

Two-fifths (39%) of zero-hours workers earn less than £111 a week – the qualifying threshold for statutory sick pay – compared to one in twelve (8%) permanent employees.

Frances O’Grady added:

“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.

“While it is good to see employment is rising, if the UK doesn’t create more well-paid jobs with regular hours we will continue to have a two-tier workforce where many people are stuck in working poverty.

“The increase in casual labour also helps explain why income tax revenues are falling which is not only bad for our public finances but for society too. The lack of regular hours and income makes it difficult for households to pay bills and take on financial commitments such as rents and mortgages.”

The Decent Jobs Deficit also reveals that:

  • Just a quarter of zero-hours workers work a full-time week.  Only one in four (23%) zero-hours workers work over 35 hours a week, compared to two-thirds (60%) of other employees
  • One in three zero-hours workers report having no regular amount of income. Zero-hours contract workers were nearly five times as likely to have differing amounts of weekly pay compared to staff with other kinds of work arrangements
  • Women on zero-hours contracts earn less than men. Women on zero-hours contracts earn £32 a week less, on average, than men employed on the same kind of contracts

The Decent Jobs Deficit: The Human Cost of Zero-Hours Working and Casual Labour makes the following key recommendations:

  • All workers should have better access to permanent, secure employment with regular hours guaranteed
  • Where individuals work regular hours, their employer should be legally required to issue them with a written contract which guarantees them their normal working hours on an ongoing basis
  • Those working irregular hours should be paid an allowance on top of their normal pay to reward the flexibility they offer their employers
  • All agency workers should have the same rights to equal pay as permanent staff
  • Increased priority should be given to the enforcement of rights for vulnerable workers, including ensuring that care workers receive at least the national minimum wage during travel time between client appointments
  • All workers, regardless of their employment status, must be given the same basic entitlements at work such as redundancy pay and the right to return to work after maternity or paternity leave

Today the TUC launches its Decent Jobs Week campaign to draw attention to the millions of people in the UK who are trapped in low-paid and insecure work.

They include the more than 1.4m zero-hours contracts in use, as well as agency and other casual workers who – due to the temporary nature of their employment – often lose out on basic rights at work.