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Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that zero hours contracts continue to rise in the UK. Their use increased by almost 20% in the period October to December 2014, compared to the corresponding quarter in 2013, and they are now used by half of all large businesses.
Zero hours contracts have attracted a significant amount of political and media attention, prompting extensive debate over the potential abuse by employers against the benefits of a flexible labour market.
In 2014, the Government introduced legislation which made exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts unenforceable. The legislation also gives the Government wide-ranging powers to make further provisions in relation to zero hours contracts in the future.
The statistics released by the ONS do, however, come with a number of health warnings. In particular, the seasonal nature of many zero hours contracts means that the apparent increase may not accurately reflect the current situation. The ONS has also highlighted that greater recognition of the term 'zero hours contracts' may partly account for their reported surge.
What does seem clear however, is that the politically charged zero hours contracts are showing no signs of decline.