Talented professionals and skilled flexible workers often take secure contracts for granted; however, hundreds of thousands of workers across the UK are still currently engaged on zero-hours contracts, with the latest statistics showing that figures have risen by more than 15% during the last year.

The Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of 2015 shows that 744,000 people were employed on a zero-hours contract basis, which is a huge increase on the 624,000 reported for the same period in 2014. These contracts now account for 2.4% of everyone in employment.

The staggering rise is not solely due to new zero-hours contractors but also to increased recognition of the term and people taking on zero-hours contract roles with the same company they were previously employed by.

Women make up the majority of the zero-hours contract workforce, with these contracts also common among students in full-time education. Further research by the TUC show that these workers are paid considerably less than permanent workers and other freelancers, with 39% earning under £111 a week.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady explained: “Zero-hours contracts are a stark reminder of Britain’s two-tier workforce. People employed on these contracts earn £300 a week less, on average, than workers in secure jobs. Try telling zero-hours workers who have been turned down by mortgage lenders and landlords that they are getting a good deal.”

The government recently introduced a ban on exclusivity clauses for zero-hours contracts, which had previously prevented an individual from working for another employer.

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