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Young zero-hours workers fall prey to mental problems

ZERO-HOURS contracts are causing mental health problems for young workers, a study published today reveals.

The University College London (UCL) study, which analysed data for more than 7,700 people living in England born in 1989-90, has prompted a renewed call from the TUC for exploitative contracts to be banned.

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.

“People need decent jobs they can build a life around. It’s why the TUC is calling for a ban on exploitative zero-hours contracts.

“Employers must not be allowed to get away with treating workers like disposable labour.”

Lead author of the report Dr Morag Henderson 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.

“There is evidence that those with a precarious relationship to the labour market such as shift workers, zero-hours contract holders and the unemployed are more at risk of poor mental health and physical health than their peers.

She said: “One explanation for these findings is that financial stress or the stress associated with having a low-status job increases the risk of poor mental health.

“It may also be that the worry of having no work or irregular work triggers physical symptoms of stress — including chest pain, headaches and muscle tension.”

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 905,000 workers in Britain were employed on zero-hours contracts between October and December 2016.

The workers are more likely to be young, part-time, women, or in full-time education.


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