Zero hours contracts and self-reported (mental) health in the UK

Egidio Farina, Colin Green*, Duncan McVicar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
87 Downloads (Pure)


This article examines associations between precarious contract types and a range of self-reported health measures for the UK. We focus on zero hours contracts (ZHCs), an extreme form of precarious employment that has grown rapidly in the UK over the last decade, and on mental health. We demonstrate that workers employed on ZHCs are more likely to report a long-term health condition than workers employed on other types of contract, with the main driver being that they are almost twice as likely to report mental ill health. These associations survive conditioning on an extensive set of observable individual, job and contextual characteristics, and are robust to sensitivity analysis designed to explore the likely extent of bias due to unobserved confounders. We discuss potential explanations for these associations, from sorting of workers with poor health into ZHC employment to detrimental effects of ZHC employment on health, drawing on additional instrumental variables estimates to do so. Finally, we discuss potential policy implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-71
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Industrial Relations
Issue number1
Early online date23 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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