By Jonathan Davies

Employees on zero-hour contracts earn almost £300 a week less than their permanent staff, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

A report by the union found that average weekly earnings for a zero-hour contracted worker is £188. In contrast, permanent staff earn an average of £479 a week.

"If the UK doesn't create more well paid jobs with regular hours we will continue to have a two-tier workforce where many people are stuck in working poverty," said TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady.

Zero-hour contracts have become an important issue in 2014 with many blaming them for low wage growth. But the government stresses their importance and the popularity of the flexibility they offer.

Zero-hour contracts mean that workers only work when the employer needs them, or there are hours available. The TUC also said that zero-hour workers are 5x more likely not to qualify for statutory sick pay

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