According to research by the TUC, workers on zero-hour contracts are more likely to do night shifts and to be paid less than other workers.

Indeed the analysis shows that, on a range of key measures, zero-hour workers are having a tougher time than those in secure employment. 

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) regularly work through the night, compared to one in 10 of the rest of the workforce. Night-working has been shown to increase long-term health impacts, such as heart disease, shortened life expectancy and risk of cancer.  

Although they are more likely to do anti-social hours, people on zero-hour contracts are paid around a third (£4.10) less an hour than other workers.  The median gross hourly pay is £7.70 for zero-hour workers and £11.80 for those not on them.  This is also despite the fact that one in 7 (14 per cent) are responsible for supervising other workers. 

To make matters worse, almost a fifth of zero-hour workers (16 per cent) do not have work each week. As a result, they work on average 25 hours a week, compared to the average worker, who works 36 hours a week. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, polling by the TUC shows that two-thirds of zero-hour workers would prefer to be on permanent, secure contracts, such that 16 per cent of them are looking for a new or additional job, compared to 7 per cent of those not on zero-hour contracts.

The TUC is therefore calling on the government to: 

  • Ban zero-hour contracts 
  • Introduce a reasonable notice period for shifts, and payment for cancelled shifts 
  • Increase enforcement of workers’ rights; and 
  • Enable trade unions to access workplaces to tell workers how joining a trade union can improve their life at work. 


Emma Game of Thompsons Solicitors commented, “irrespective of employment status, individuals should have their basic employment rights recognised and respected. The use of these contracts in the workforce exploit those who are likely to be the most vulnerable in society. In our opinion, the practice should cease to ensure that everyone has access to a decent working life.”

To read the analysis in full, go to the TUC website