More than 1.4 million contract workers in the UK are experiencing a different type of compensation and benefit package compared to permanently employed workers.
According to a Labour Force Survey study by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), zero-hours workers’ earnings are almost £300 less than permanent workers. Additionally, they are five times more likely to not receive statutory sick pay due to their take home pay and poverty wages.
Permanent staff workers tend to take home an average of £479 a week. Contract workers make less than half of that—taking home £188 a week.
Two-fifths of the same group of workers sometimes takes home less than £111 a week.
When it comes to working hours, only one in four zero-hours contractors work a full-time schedule of 35 hours per week in comparison to 60 percent of workers and other employees.
However, female contractors seem to have it the hardest. They earn an average of £32 a week less than their male coworkers.
Even then, contract workers are more likely to have a weekly income that fluctuates or no steady income.
As mentioned before, sick pay benefits are not on the radar for contract workers, which permanent workers and other types of employees have the privilege of using when necessary. Instead, many contract workers resort to poverty 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," said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
O’Grady blames deteriorating living conditions in the UK on casual contract work. He believes that the growth of zero-hours workers is detrimental to not only the individual, but to society as a whole.
Most importantly, income tax revenue is worsening because of zero-hours workers. A lack of regular stable hours also puts a strain on contract workers as far as paying bills, rent, and larger responsibilities like mortgage.
Since all these factors have come to light, TUC’s campaign Decent Jobs Week has been cracking down on unfair practices towards zero-hours contract employees—especially those that leave a worker financially disabled.
The campaign plans to ensure that contract workers are being rewarded for working irregular hours and are compensated for maternity leave.
Contract labour has worked in the favour of businesses for some time now, yet, a great deal of workers are surviving off of very low pay, insecure work, and what some would call "working poverty."
While contract work seems to be a not so ideal working situation, business experts say that this form of employment does work for some people.
"Zero-hours contracts have a place in today’s labour market," mentions a Business Department spokesman. "These types of contracts provide important and flexible employment opportunities that suit most people in these jobs and provide an average of 22 hours work a week."
For the most part, contractors are doing the same type of work, but not for the same type of reward or benefit as other non-contract employees.
The only concern for TUC is making sure that contract workers are receiving and are aware of the same employment rights as permanent workers in all aspects of the workforce.
Image Source: Willerby Hill