A survey of 2,500 workers and 1,000 employers conducted by the CIPD has concluded that 60% of people on zero-hours contracts are satisfied with their work – slightly above the 59% of the general workforce.

CIPD CEO Peter Cheese said: “The use of zero-hours contracts in the UK economy has been underestimated, oversimplified and, in some cases, unfairly demonised. Our research shows that the majority of people employed on these contracts are satisfied with their jobs.”

Instead of introducing new legislation that may lead to unintended consequences, he said, the government should first enforce existing legislation and improve management practise.

Mr Cheese added: “The reality of today’s globally competitive economy and increasingly complex and age-diverse workforce is that flexibility is here to stay.”

A proportion of workers on these contracts are, in fact, well-paid independent professionals in the UK’s freelance contracting community who wish to offer maximum flexibility to clients.

The study does, however, identify a number of problems. Some staff and employers appear confused about their rights: one-fifth of zero-hours workers claim to have been penalised for not being available for work.

In conjunction with the law firm Lewis Silkin, the CIPD has made a number of recommendations. These include pay equity between zero-hours workers and staff on other contracts for similar work, that firms regularly review how appropriate zero-hours contracts are for their work requirements, and that employers should not restrict staff from working for other companies unless there are clear business reasons for doing so.

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