At least 30,000 NHS workers in the UK are employed on zero-hours contracts according to analysis from the GMB union.
The real number is likely to be even higher as the statistics may not include outsourced workers or workers employed through controversial ‘wholly-owned subsidiary’ companies that are not bound by nationally agreed employment standards.
The number of NHS workers who report being employed on a zero-hours contract has increased fourfold since 2013, much faster than the increase in the wider economy.
GMB report a wide range of employment problems relating to zero-hours contracts in the NHS, including failure to pay proper overtime rates.
GMB supports the Labour Party’s pledge to end the use of zero-hours contracts in the NHS and across the wider economy, following the example of New Zealand which banned the contracts in 2016. Solidarity also backs this policy.
Speaking at GMB’s Public Services Conference in Glasgow, Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary for Public Services, said: “The NHS is under enormous pressure and cuts and privatisation are linked to a rise in so-called ‘gig economy’ working.
“If you are employed on a zero-hours contract then you are denied financial security and the right to predict your hours, and they can make it impossible to access mortgages.
“At the end of the day, a pressured, demoralised and casualised workforce will end up impacting on patient care.
“Zero-hours contracts have no place in the NHS or elsewhere – and these figures may represent the tip of the iceberg".
Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity said: "The GMB is right to say that zero-hour contracts have no place in the NHS. These contracts mean workers have no guaranteed weekly hours or income, and are only being paid for the hours that they do work. Bosses use zero-hours contracts to cut wages and avoid holiday pay and pensions. Zero-hours contracts lead to a high level of insecurity and an increased risk of bullying, harassment, and stress".