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 3 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

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy