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Jobseekers should not be forced into “Russian roulette of zero-hours contracts”

6 May 2014

Forcing people to accept zero hours contracts or face benefit sanctions could leave jobseekers with no income and little chance of securing stable employment in the long term, Citizens Advice has warned.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said:

"Zero hours can mean zero prospects and zero income. Forcing people to accept a role which offers little or no guarantee of an income could leave jobseekers facing the daunting choice between a tough financial sanction and the Russian roulette of a zero-hour contract. The 60 per cent rise in people coming to Citizens Advice for help with JSA sanctions shows that this system is causing anxiety whilst doing little to help people get work.

"Getting people into stable employment is the surest way of reducing the cost of out-of-work support. Financial support needs to be paired with help to develop skills and increase the likelihood of finding work in the long-term. A role with few hours of work and no guaranteed income could mean hard-pressed families find their gains from work outweighed by childcare and transport costs.

"As part of the Government’s review of zero-hour contracts, ministers have a responsibility to tighten the rules so workers have decent rights and a guarantee of a minimum income."


Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit You can also get advice online at
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.