Zero-hours contracts rife in education

UCU research aims to find figure for academy alone

August 8, 2013

The education sector, including higher education, is the second most likely to use zero-hours contracts, according to a survey highlighting the widespread use of the controversial deals.

A survey of 1,000 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, published on 5 August, indicates that between 3 and 4 per cent of the UK workforce – more than 1 million people – are on such contracts.

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, revealed last week that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is reviewing zero-hours contracts to gauge the breadth of their use and impact.

The CIPD’s survey shows that zero-hours contracts – which offer workers no guarantee of the hours they will work – are most common in the hotel, catering and leisure industry, where 48 per cent of employers said they had at least one person on a zero-hours contract, followed by education (35 per cent) and healthcare ( per cent).

A CIPD spokeswoman said the figures came from the organisation’s Labour Market Outlook: Summer 2013 survey and include those working in primary, secondary, further and higher education.

There are as yet no authoritative figures on the use of zero-hours contracts in the academy. The Higher Education Statistics Agency found that 187,865 “atypical staff” were employed by higher education institutions during the 2011-12 academic year, an increase of 2.4 per cent on the previous year.

However, a Hesa spokesman said that those counted in this category also included staff on “many other types of non-standard contracts”.

The University and College Union is seeking to fill the information gap. Simon Renton, president of the UCU, said: “We are currently undertaking research in both universities and colleges, and should hopefully have some data soon.

“While there is the chance that flexible contracts work well for some people, employers must not try and hide behind flexibility when staff are made to suffer contracts that offer them few, if any, benefits and leave them in an unstable situation from month to month.”

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together