Around one third of staff working in guest houses, hotels, restaurants and pubs are now employed on zero hours contracts, according to the latest Travel & Tourism Survey conducted by MHA, a UK-wide association of chartered accountants and business advisors.
Yet, despite the flexibility that this arrangement offers employers, more than 60% of these staff regularly work 20 hours or more – with more than three quarters of these routinely employed for 40 hours per week.
The survey paints a picture of an industry starting to benefit from an upturn in trading conditions, with 56% reporting improved profitability in the last 12 months and 58% predicting that 2014 will be better still.
However, 50% cited turnover either stagnant or growing by less than 5% over the last 12 months.
The association's head of travel and leisure, Andrew Burnham, said: “The travel and tourism sector is emerging from a sustained period of low growth, but with discretionary spending improving across the economy as a whole, the hope is that – weather permitting – the year ahead will see the return of profitability capable of supporting future investment plans.
“One indicator of this growing confidence is the number of employees working extended hours on zero hours contracts – this sector was always going to be an adopter of this employment option, but the numbers working what might be considered a ‘standard’ working week suggest that this arrangement is working for both parties.”
Almost a quarter of the operators covered by the survey look set to increase investment this year in premises refurbishment, while 16% will be spending more on marketing – particularly social media – to support business development.