Scotland named zero-hours capital of UK as unions blast 'grim' figures

The research from the Office for National Statistics has recorded a record high of the controversial 'casual' contracts.

Scotland has been named the zero-hour contracts capital of the UK.

Research gathered by the Office for National Statistics reveals the country has a record high rate of the controversial contracts for workers.

Figures obtained between January and March this year show 105,000 Scottish workers, accounting for 3.9% of the workforce, have no set working hours.

This number is a rise on 94,000, or 3.4%, recorded in October to December 2022.

Scotland has the highest rate, with the UK average standing at 3.4%.

England stands at 3.5%, Wales at 2.8% and Northern Ireland at 1.3%.

The news has been branded as “grim” by the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC).

The contracts, which have been heavily criticised, mean workers are regularly unaware of their working hours or pay each week.

Also known as casual contracts, they are frequently used in sectors including hospitality and social care, according to the ONS.

The data also shows that 25.9% of full-time students are also on zero hours.

Roz Foyer, general secretary of the STUC said the statistics should encourage the UK Government to devolve employment law to Holyrood to crack down on the contracts’ use.

It comes as Scotland’s unemployment rates for January to March this year increased slightly to 3.1%, compared to the record 3% recorded between December and February.

Ms Foyer said: “This release from the ONS makes for grim reading as Scotland is crowned the worst nation in the UK for the use of zero-hours contracts.

“Reaching record levels of 105,000, employers are using these contracts to deny workers basic workplace rights, exerting control and power on workers’ terms and conditions.

“It’s an incredibly damning indictment of the UK Government and their chronic handling of the economy that so many must turn to zero hours to make ends meet.”

She added: “Now more than ever, Scotland needs the devolution of employment law to outlaw, once and for all, the use of zero-hours contracts, giving workers security, certainly and workplace rights from day one of their employment.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Zero Hours Justice campaign group said the contracts were a “stain on our economy”, adding: “UK and Scottish ministers must take action to end the use of these exploitative contracts that are causing misery for over 100,000 Scottish workers.”

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said: “The Scottish Government firmly opposes the inappropriate use of zero hours contracts and other types of employment that offer workers minimal job or financial security.

“Although zero hour contracts fall under employment law, which is reserved to the UK Government, we are committed to making fair work the norm in Scotland.

“Public sector grants awarded on or after July 1, 2023 will be required to pay at least the real Living Wage to all employees, and to provide appropriate channels for effective voice, within the bounds of what we can do within devolved competence. This step extends the reach of Fair Work First which we have already applied to some £4bn of public funds since 2019.

“Scotland remains the best performing of all four UK countries with 91% of employees over 18 paid the Real Living Wage or more.”

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.

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