The use of zero-hours contracts in Wales is out of control. It's time to ban them.

Published date
Between June 2018 and June 2019 the number of people on zero-hours contracts in Wales jumped by 35%. That’s not a typo. They went up by more than a third in 12 months.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that at least 50,000 people across Wales are now on a zero-hours contract. That’s up from 37,000 in 2018 and represents 3.4% of employees in Wales – the highest rate on record.

The table below sets out the full picture over the last five years:


(Figures for April to June)

In employment on a zero-hours contract (thousands)

Per cent of people in employment on a zero hours contract
















Wales now has the second highest rate of zero-hours contracts of anywhere in the UK – only just behind the East Midlands.

Defenders of zero-hours contracts will often be heard talking about how these contracts offer great flexibility and how popular they are with workers. This is, to put it politely, not true.

The actual truth is that most people on zero-hours contracts want out. And the only flexibility that they offer is flexibility for bosses.

A TUC-commissioned poll of workers on zero-hours contracts found that:

  • More than half (51%) have had shifts cancelled at less than 24 hours’ notice.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) have been offered work at less than 24 hours’ notice.
  • More than a third (35 per cent) have been threatened with not being given shifts in the future if they turn down work.
  • Only a quarter (25%) prefer being on zero-hours contracts.

In addition, the poll found many on zero-hours contracts lose out on the rights that are important to them and which most of us take for granted in the workplace:

  • Only 1 in 8 (12%) get sick pay.
  • Only 1 in 14 (7%) would get redundancy pay.
  • Two-fifths (43%) don’t get holiday pay.
  • Half (47%) do not get written terms and conditions.

The continued growth of these contracts is a scandal. A ban is long overdue.