Young zero-hour contract workers are more like to have worse mental and physical health than people of the same age in stable work, a study has found.
The University College London study involving 7,707 young people found 25-year-olds working on zero hour contracts were 41 percent less likely than their peers on secure contracts to report good physical health.
Young people working jobs that do not guarantee minimum hours were also one-and-a-half times more likely to report a mental health issue compared to those with stable contracts.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said zero-hour contracts should be banned.
He said, “This shocking research points to zero-hours contracts not just harming people’s wallets, but harming people’s physical and mental health too.
“Our young people deserve a better future than low-paid, insecure work and the stress of not knowing from one week to the next whether they will be able pay the bills and eat.”
The study’s lead author, Dr Morag Henderson, said one reason for zero-hour contracts negatively impacting mental health was financial worries as well as the anxiety “associated with having a low-status job”.
She said, “Millennials have faced a number of challenges as they entered the world of work. They joined the labour market at the height of the most recent financial crisis and faced higher than ever university fees and student loan debt.”
The number of people on zero-hours contracts has reached record levels, with 905,000 people on them in the last three months of 2016, up 13 percent from the same period the year before.
TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said, “If you don’t know how much work you will have from one day to the next, this is bound to impact on your health and mental wellbeing.”
“Employers must not be allowed to get away with treating workers like disposable labour.”