Zero-hour contracts have hit a record high as almost a million Brits have no guaranteed working hours.

The number of zero-hour workers jumped sharply to 974,000 in the last three months of 2019 – more than five times the number when the Tories took power in 2010.

It means 3% of all workers in the UK – and 9% of those aged under 25 – are now on the deals.

Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union which wants zero-hour contracts scrapped, said: “People shouldn’t have to live like this – zero hours means zero security and zero rights.

“Enough is enough, it’s time to follow the successful policies of other countries and ban these contracts once and for all.”

He added: “Companies are using zero hours contracts as a business model to avoid their responsibilities to the people who make them their money.

A street cleaner at 10 Downing Street (file photo)

“On a zero hours contract you don’t know what wage you’ll have coming in from week to week, you don’t know if you can pay the bills or buy the shopping and you cant say boo to a goose or you won’t get any hours the week after.”

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood said: “It is shocking that there are more people on zero-hour contracts in the UK than ever before.

“The government must make tackling insecure work and low pay a priority by banning zero-hour contracts and providing a real living wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers aged 16 and over.”

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The Office for National Statistics figures, released today, show the number of zero-hour contracts exploded from 2012 before levelling off and dropping slightly from 2016.

The number fell to 781,000 in April-June 2018 but then began rising again and is now at a record.

The ONS previously said the spike between 2012 and 2013 was likely due to increased media coverage and workers realising theirs was a “zero-hour” contract for the first time.

Tim Roache, general secretary of GMB said: “People shouldn’t have to live like this”

Overall UK employment jumped to a record high of 76.5% or 32.93million in the three months to December as 150,000 more women entered the workplace. Unemployment was just 3.8%.

But wages rose by 2.9% to December, less than the 3.2% to the previous month and less than predicted.

Myrto Miltiadou, ONS deputy head of labour market statistics, said: “In real terms, regular earnings have finally risen above the level seen in early 2008.

“But pay including bonuses is still below its pre-downturn peak.”

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In the quarter to December, the ONS also recorded the largest increase in EU-born workers in the UK since March 2017, rising by 133,000 to 2.44 million.

Minister for employment Mims Davies said: “As we embark on a new chapter as an independent nation outside the EU, we do so with a record-breaking jobs market and business confidence on the rise.

“With wages still outpacing inflation, UK workers can expect their money to go further as we look ahead to a decade of renewal.”

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