Toggle high contrast
Issue date
News TUC analysis finds zero-hour workers do double the night shifts and are paid on average £4 an hour less than other workers

According to recent official figures, there are 80,000 people in the South West whose main job is a zero-hour contract.

But this is not by choice – the TUC conducted a poll which found two-thirds of zero-hours workers want to be on permanent and secure contracts.

The TUC has also conducted new analysis that shows zero-hours workers are having a tougher time than those in secure employment.

  • Night shifts: Nearly a quarter (23%) of zero-hours contracts workers regularly do night shifts, compared to one in ten of the rest of the workforce. Night-working has been linked to heart disease, shortened life expectancy and higher risk of cancer.
  • Lower wages: Zero-hours contract workers are on average paid around a third (£4.10) less an hour than other workers. This is despite 12% of zero-hours workers being supervisors and managers.
  • Lack of work: One in seven zero-hour workers (16%) do not have work each week. And they work on average 25 hours a week, compared to average workers, who work 36 hours a week.
  • Stress: Not knowing if you will get work next week and being paid low wages have a significant impact on mental health according to union polling

TUC Regional Secretary for the South West Nigel Costley said:

“Too many of Cornwall’s workers have to rely on insecure employment and the worst are zero-hours contracts.”

“The vast majority of people on zero-hours contracts want out. The only flexibility offered, is flexibility that works for employers.”

“Zero-hour workers regularly work for low pay, including through the night, which puts their health at risk. Many also face the constant uncertainty of not knowing when their next shift will come which adds to their financial struggles.”

“We need the government to stamp out these unfair contracts. Working people in the region need solid jobs, with guaranteed hours so they can provide for a decent family life.”

Heart Unions Week, is when trade unions members celebrate and showcase what trade unions do to help working people.

This year, Heart Unions Week will be ramping up its campaign for a ban on zero-hours contracts. Union leaders will commit to negotiate an end to zero-hour contracts in workplaces where they have recognition. And an online petition will build public support for a ban.

Editors note

Figures broken down by region:

Number of Workers on Zero Hours


South West










Bournemouth and Poole






West of England



Source: ONS, with TUC analysis

- The median gross hourly pay is £7.70 for ZH workers and £11.80 for those not on ZHCs

- Looking for a new job: 16% of zero-hour workers are looking for a new or additional job, compared to 7% of those not on ZHCs

- Night working and zero-hour contracts: 23% of ZH workers have them as a usual part of their working pattern as opposed to 11% of those not on ZHCs

- Night shifts and the risks to health: A TUC report from 2015 (A Hard Day’s Night) which spoke of the risks to health and work-life balance from night shift working.

- Insecure work and it impact on mental health: USDAW union survey:

- Data on night working, numbers working, days worked, and pay is taken from the Q2 2018 of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, as this is the most recent with information on zero-hour contracts, accessed through Nesstar. Data on average hours worked, whether looking for new or additional work, and percentage of workers left without work in a reference week is taken from the ONS release, based on the same Q2 2018 LFS data  found here

- The TUC surveyed zero-hour workers in 2017, which showed that the majority of ZH workers don’t have access to basic rights such as sick pay, holiday pay and paternity/maternity pay. The full link to the report can be found here:

- Spread of days worked

Days worked

Zero-hour worker

Contracted hours worker






















Source: ONS

- The TUC is calling on the government to:

  • Ban zero hours contracts
  • Introduce a reasonable notice period for shifts, and payment for cancelled shifts
  • Increase enforcement of workers’ rights; and
  • Enable trade unions to access workplaces to tell workers how joining a trade union can improve their life at work.

- HeartUnions week: is marked by the TUC every year in the week of Valentine’s day, as an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the work that trade unions do to help working people up and down the country every day

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

To access the admin area, you will need to setup two-factor authentication (TFA).

Setup now