Zero-hours contracts amongst the over 50s age bracket.

Zero-hours contracts amongst the over 50s age bracket.Zero hours contracts

Zero-hour contracts among people over 50 have reached their highest level since records began in 2013, according to new analysis of official government statistics by Rest Less, who offers help and advice to older people.

There are now nearly 300,000 people aged 50 and older with zero-hours contracts.

This figure has nearly doubled in just under 10 years, increasing from 149,000 in October-December 2013 to 296,000 in July-September 2022, the report said.

More than a quarter of the total number of zero hours contracts are held by workers aged 50 or older, the study also indicated.

Stuart Lewis, CEO of Rest Less said, “We know many who have turned to zero-hour contracts because age discrimination or a lack of workplace flexibility prevented them from finding more steady or structured work,” he added. “Others are juggling zero-hour contracts alongside other part-time positions to supplement work hours and make ends meet amid double-digit inflation.”

People relying solely on a zero hours contract as their main source of income, can be fraught with challenges and anxiety about where and when the next pay check will come.

In addition, employment rights are limited and amidst a cost-of-living crisis they can leave employees in an extremely vulnerable position.

Chris Peace, Director of action group Zero Hours Justice, warned that the usual challenges of relying on a zero-hour contract – the uncertainty of not knowing whether someone is working or not, whether enough money is coming in to pay their bills, and what someone’s employment rights are – are exacerbated for people over age 50 because of how their inconsistent wages affect their financial planning as they get closer to retirement.

Because their wages fluctuate from month to month, pension contributions of the over-50s are particularly hard hit.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the over 50s, a lot of people in this age bracket who have worked for most of their adult life are now looking for that work life balance, possibly moving away from full time positions to find more flexible ways of working or combining different jobs to introduce job variety into their lives.

Zero hour contracts often have negative connotations but really this has come from unscrupulous employers who have used the contracts unfairly in the past. They can be beneficial to both employer and employee if used correctly. Now that the government has announced a ban on exclusivity clauses (intended to prevent employees from working more than one employer) in zero hours contracts and for those on or below the lower earning limit, this gives more flexibility to everyone who wants to create their own work/life balance along with being more in control of their working hours.





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