More over 50s doing zero hours jobs

The number of over 50s doing zero hour contracts has risen significantly in the past decade, according to new analysis.



Over 50s have seen the biggest increase in zero hour jobs in the last decade, according to new analysis of ONS figures.

The analysis by Rest Less shows there are nearly 300,000 people aged 50+ working under a zero hours contract – the highest number for this age group since records began in 2013.

Data issued in November 2022 by the Office of National Statistics shows that the number of people aged 50-64 working under a zero hours contract has increased by 108%, up from  from 107,000 in October-December 2013 compared with 123,000 in July-September 2022. They now account for 21% of zero hours contract workers. The numbers for over 65 year olds are also up, although this may be in part be the result of changes in the State Pension Age, which increased to 66 between 2018 and 2020 and to the equalisation of state pension policies between 2010 and 2018, which saw the age at which women can drawn down their state pension rise from 60 to 65.

Experts say other factors to bear in mind are age discrimination, a lack of flexible – particularly part-time – roles being advertised and the cost of living pressures.

Stuart Lewis, Chief Executive of Rest Less, said: “Zero hours contracts can be a suitable option for people looking for hyper-flexible work whose schedules change regularly. For this reason, zero hours contracts are common amongst young people and also second jobbers who want to earn extra income on the side on a flexible basis. In the absence of sufficiently flexible work from many mainstream employers, zero hours contracts can also offer flexibility for older workers juggling caring and other life responsibilities with fluctuating schedules.

‘However, for people relying solely on a zero hours contract as their main source of income, they can be fraught with challenges and anxiety about where and when the next paycheck will come. In addition, employment rights are limited and amidst a cost of living crisis they can leave employees in an extremely vulnerable position.

‘The large rise in the number of people aged 50+ working under zero hours contracts is worrying. Whilst the flexibility they offer is a good fit for some, we know of many individuals who have turned to zero hours contracts as they have been unable to find a more permanent or structured type of work due to age discrimination or a lack of workplace flexibility. Others are juggling zero hours contracts alongside other part-time roles to top up working hours to make ends meet amidst double digit inflation.”

The Times reported over the festive period that the Prime Minister is planning to try and attract older workers who have retired back to work through providing midlife MOTs to assess their financial wellbeing, possibly through their pension providers.

Other suggestions reported to be being considered by the Government are a “pairing” scheme in which older workers provide support and advice to small and medium-sized businesses and a volunteering scheme.

The International Longevity Centre welcomed the news about the Prime Minister, but tweeted: “If this means a long-term workforce strategy = healthy work places, support for those with caring responsibilities, skills training and flexibility a thumbs up.  Thumbs down if it is just short-term sticking plasters and sticks.”

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