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Zero Hours Contracts and Their Growth

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  • Egidio Farina
  • Colin Green
  • Duncan McVicar

Abstract

This article studies the prevalence and nature of zero hours contracts (ZHCs) in the UK labour market. It is widely argued that the headline count of ZHC workers based on the Labour Force Survey historically underestimated the number of workers in ZHC jobs. Here, we argue that this likely continues to be the case, particularly if one considers other, similar, no‐guaranteed‐hours jobs alongside ZHCs. ZHC jobs and workers are heterogeneous, but ZHCs have become increasingly concentrated among young workers, full‐time students, migrants, black and minority ethnic workers, in personal service and elementary occupations, and in the distribution, accommodation and restaurant sector over time. Compared to other forms of employment, median wages in ZHC jobs have also fallen. The most common prior labour market state for ZHC workers is non‐ZHC employment, particularly part‐time employment, with part of the reported growth in ZHCs driven by reclassification of existing employment relationships. Finally, we show that growth in public awareness of ZHCs contributed substantially to recent growth in reported ZHCs, particularly over the period 2013/14.

Suggested Citation

  • Egidio Farina & Colin Green & Duncan McVicar, 2020. "Zero Hours Contracts and Their Growth," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 58(3), pages 507-531, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:58:y:2020:i:3:p:507-531
    DOI: 10.1111/bjir.12512
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    Cited by:

    1. Egidio Farina & Colin Green & Duncan McVicar, 2024. "Zero hours contracts and self‐reported (mental) health in the UK," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 62(1), pages 50-71, March.
    2. Rachel Scarfe, 2019. "Flexibility or certainty? The aggregate effects of casual jobs on labour markets," Edinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 294, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    3. Avram, Silvia, 2020. "Zero-hours contracts: flexibility or insecurity? Experimental evidence from a low income population," ISER Working Paper Series 2020-10, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    4. Egidio Farina & Colin Green & Duncan McVicar, 2020. "Zero Hours Contracts and Their Growth," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 58(3), pages 507-531, September.
    5. Vassilis Monastiriotis & Ian R Gordon & Ioannis Laliotis, 2021. "Uneven geographies of economic recovery and the stickiness of individual displacement," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 14(1), pages 157-178.
    6. Farina, Egidio & Green, Colin P. & McVicar, Duncan, 2020. "Is Precarious Employment Bad for Worker Health? The Case of Zero Hours Contracts in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 13116, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Emma Beacom & Sinéad Furey & Lynsey Hollywood & Paul Humphreys, 2021. "Conceptualising household food insecurity in Northern Ireland: risk factors, implications for society and the economy, and recommendations for business and policy response," SN Business & Economics, Springer, vol. 1(5), pages 1-22, May.
    8. Eva Padrosa & Mireia Bolíbar & Mireia Julià & Joan Benach, 2021. "Comparing Precarious Employment Across Countries: Measurement Invariance of the Employment Precariousness Scale for Europe (EPRES-E)," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 154(3), pages 893-915, April.
    9. Haile, Getinet Astatike, 2023. "Precarious employment and workplace health outcomes in Britain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 320(C).
    10. Andrew Smith & Jo McBride, 2023. "‘It was doing my head in’: Low‐paid multiple employment and zero hours work," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 61(1), pages 3-23, March.
    11. Egidio Farina & Colin Green & Duncan McVicar, 2021. "Are Estimates of Non‐Standard Employment Wage Penalties Robust to Different Wage Measures? The Case of Zero‐hour Contracts in the UK," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 370-399, July.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J48 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Particular Labor Markets; Public Policy
    • M55 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Contracting Devices

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