As the ONS publishes new figures showing 900,000 people are on zero-hour contracts, Citizens Advice highlights how having a steady job is just as important to people as earning a decent wage.

It also says the government could consider requiring  businesses to disclose how many staff they have on different types of contracts and look at strengthening its enforcement arm.

A new report from the charity today reveals the number of temporary agency workers in England and Wales has risen from 230,000 to 297,000 since 2006.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“People want job security as well as decent pay.

“The government has taken some important steps to make work pay, including introducing the National Living Wage. The next step is to look at how it can make people's incomes more secure.

“For 9 in 10 people having a steady income is important - and this makes job security as important as the level of people's pay. There are currently 4.5 million people in some form of insecure employment from zero-hours contracts to variable shift patterns or agency work.

“Some people do value these more flexible ways of working as it can help them balance other responsibilities, but it is a different story for those who rely on this type of work as their main income.  

“Not knowing how much you can earn from one month to the next can make it hard to pay the bills and keep up with other financial commitments, which can result in debt problems further down the line.

“Encouraging businesses to be more transparent about their workforces’ contracts and looking at creating a single enforcement body which can take action against businesses that are treating staff unfairly or illegally, could help the government ensure that the increasing number of people in work have a secure job.”

Citizens Advice’s report Sharp Practice at work: agency rights also highlights cases where agency workers earn less than their permanently employed colleagues, are denied paid holidays and rest breaks they are legally entitled to and have had unfair deductions from their wages.

The report says government could consider simplifying the enforcement landscape around workers rights and look at requiring larger employers publish information about the contractual makeup of their workforce.