A Nottinghamshire business organisation has spoken out in favour of zero hour contracts after a report showed a rise in the East Midlands of 26 per cent in a year.
East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), says zero-hours contracts provide flexibility to the labour market.
The number of zero-hours employment contracts across the East Midlands stood at 65,000 between April and June – an increase of 17,000 since December 2014 – according to figures released by the Office For National Statistics (ONS).
Nationally, there were 744,000 zero-hours contracts between April and June, up from 624,000 in the same period last year.
Chris Hobson, Director of Policy at East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), said: “Zero-hours contracts provide a flexibility that works for both employers and individuals, particularly now that the exclusivity clause has been removed from those instances where it was being applied, giving employees the flexibility to take other work opportunities and more control over their work hours and income.
“Although the overall number of zero-hours contracts has increased in the past year, it is still represents only a very small percentage of the workforce – fewer than three per cent, both nationally and regionally – and could be the result of zero-hours contract workers taking advantage of the removal of exclusivity clauses to work for more than one employer.
“A great strength of the East Midlands is the large mix of sectors and employment types in the region, which has helped it to buck national trends and create jobs at a faster rate than any other region.
“A flexible labour market has been key to enabling local businesses to drive the economy away from recession and into growth and zero-hours contracts have been an important tool in this.
“They enable organisations to respond to peaks and troughs in demand and employees to manage caring responsibilities, study, improve their work–life balance or to downshift from full-time work as they move towards retirement. One-in-five of all such contracts are held by people in full-time education, combining their studies with work.
“Maintaining a flexible labour market is crucial to keeping unemployment down and promoting business growth.
“Much of the negativity surrounding zero-hours contracts is based on a misunderstanding of the role they can play in creating and protecting jobs. They are a vital part of a successful jobs market. It is important that they continue to be fair, transparent and work for all parties.”