Around one million workers in the UK currently have zero hours contracts, new research has revealed.
Zero hours contracts have no guaranteed shifts or work patterns.
More than a quarter (27%) of healthcare employers were likely to hire people on a zero hours contract, the report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) showed.
Official government figures suggest that just 250,000 people consider themselves to be on a zero hours contract.
Yet out of 1,000 people surveyed by CIPD, 3-4% were on a zero hours contract, equating to one million people across the UK.
Around 38% of zero hours contract workers consider themselves to be full time staff, working over 30 hours each week.
Of the 62% working part time, more than a third (38%) would like to work more hours.
CIPD CEO Peter Cheese said: “Zero hours contracts are a hot topic and our research suggests they are being used more commonly than the ONS figures would imply. However, the assumption that all zero hours contracts are “bad” and the suggestion from some quarters that they should be banned should be questioned.
“There does need to be a closer look at what is meant by a zero hours contract, the different forms that they take, and clearer guidance on what good and bad practice in their use looks like. And this needs to consider both the advantages and disadvantages in practice for businesses and employees.”
The CIPD report claims that when used appropriately, zero hours contracts can provide flexibility for both employers and employees.
Among the fifth of employers across the UK who made use of zero hours contracts, the majority (54%) employed less than 10% of their workforce on these terms and the mean proportion of workers on zero hours contracts in these organisations was 16%.