OVER a quarter (28%) of UK firms are in favour of zero-hours contracts despite the widespread controversy surrounding them, a survey has revealed.
Of this figure, 60% believe that these contracts would allow them to respond quickly to fluctuating demand for their services, while almost a third (31%) believe that it would grant their employees greater flexibility in the workplace.
The figures are taken from the Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly poll of SME owners and senior management that gauges sentiment on a number of issues that affect their business.
Commenting on the findings, Mike Randall, CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance said: “Zero-hours contracts have been the subject of some debate between employers, employees and the government in recent months and it shows no sign of abating.
"According to the Office of National Statistics*, approximately 1.4 million people in the UK are currently employed on contracts with no fixed hours, representing a significant part of the national workforce who are in employment but have no guarantee of a stable income.
"While zero-hours contracts can provide flexibility, they can also make things like budgeting and financial planning difficult as it’s almost impossible to know how many hours they'll be working from one month to the next. Employees are often obliged to work the shifts they are offered and some are unable to accept additional work elsewhere without breaking the terms of their contract."
The study also found that almost a fifth of businesses currently have staff employed on zero-hours contracts, while a further 12% are planning to implement them in the near future.
Mr Randall added: "In this evolving economic climate businesses are understandably taking steps to adapt and strive for growth and zero-hours contracts provide an opportunity to increase their workforce to meet demand while keeping overheads to a minimum.
"Research from our Business Barometer also found that over two fifths of businesses plan to recruit new staff in the next 12 months and yet over half still cite cash flow as a major concern for their business, which may explain why many have already implemented these contracts as a way to safeguard their future."