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The ONS said the number of zero hours workers reached an all-time high. Reuters

The number of people on zero-hours contracts reached an all-time high of 801,000 in late 2015, figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday (9 March) showed.

According to the ONS, between October and December last year workers on a contract that guaranteed no minimum hours in their main job had risen by 104,000 in the corresponding period a year ago. The figure represents 2.5% of the total employed UK workforce, up from 2.3% in the same period of 2014.

The report found that those on zero-hours contracts were more likely to be young, part time, women, or in full-time education when compared with other people in employment. On average, someone on a zero-hours contract usually worked 26 hours a week and 37% wanted more hours, with most wanting them in their current job rather than in a different job which offered more hours. In comparison, 10% of other people in employment wanted more hours.

"This latest figure is rather higher than the 697,000 people who said they were on these contracts in late 2014," said ONS statistician Nick Palmer. "Though at least some of this increase may be due to greater public recognition of the term 'zero-hours contract', there's also nothing to suggest this form of employment is in decline."

According to a report released by the Resolution Foundation thinktank on 29 February, millions of UK workers are either working less hours than they would like or they are stuck in the wrong job, adding that an extra five million hours of work a week are needed to satisfy employees' demands for more work.