Are Zero Hour Contracts Legal

David Lawrence
• Wednesday, 06 January, 2021
• 11 min read

But it's a blanket phrase to describe many casual agreements between individuals and their employer. With that in mind, a zero hours contract usually involves an employer not being able to guarantee the individual any hours of work, nor a set working pattern.

zero hours hour contracts workers employment right
(Source: snewsi.com)


A minimum notice period if their employment is ending. Some, such as flexible working, can require a minimum length of service.

Whichever status your staff have in your agreement with them, the relevant rights from above apply. Hiring a worker can be great for both parties when you don't have a constant demand for staff.

Special events like weddings, functions, and business expos. In jobs where health & safety is a concern, such as a lifeguard or security officer, having workers to call up in the case of staff absence is essential.

You should always be open and honest with any of your staff about their employment status. ‘ Zero hours contract’ is a non- legal term used to describe many types of casual agreements between an employer and an individual.

For example, a self-employed plumber might take up work offered on a zero hours basis from a number of regular clients, but he remains self-employed. Any individual on a zero hours contract who is a ‘worker’ will be entitled to at least the National Minimum Wage, paid annual leave, rest breaks and protection from discrimination.

contracts hour zero
(Source: www.seatons.co.uk)

Zero hours contracts can also provide a level of flexibility for the individual, which allows them to work around other commitments such as study or childcare. Some types of work are driven by external factors that are out of the employer’s control and this can happen in a range of sectors including, for example, hospitality, leisure and catering.

New businesses When a new business starts up it might need to build up a customer base to undertake work so, at first, they may need to employ people on zero hours contracts in addition to any permanent staff to manage fluctuating and unpredictable demands. Seasonal work or peaks in demand, where it is known that for short periods of time additional staff are needed to manage surges in demand such as retail sales at Christmastime or providing a cleaning service for example, following a festival or a New Year celebration.

Unexpected sickness Employers may need to be ready to cover periods of unexpected staff sickness and be able to call on experienced staff, for example, a pharmacist in a chemist or a lifeguard at a leisure center. Zero hours contracts are rarely appropriate to run the core business, but might be useful for unexpected or irregular events such as bereavement leave by staff, to deliver sufficient customer service during peaks in demand, or when preparing to open a new store.

Those who work on a zero hours contract may have caring responsibilities or have studies and may need to plan for childcare or around exams. Employers should consider putting into place a policy explaining the circumstances when and how work might be cancelled, and how they try to avoid this, and whether the individual can expect any compensation for caring costs they may have incurred.

Those who take up work on a zero hours contract are often students, partially retired, or have caring commitments. The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act prohibits the use of exclusivity clauses or terms in any zero hours contract.

zero hour contracts hours contract health mental casual engaged workers status markedly slowed rising growth half second end vulnerable finds
(Source: smallbusiness.co.uk)

An employer must allow the individual to take work elsewhere in order to earn an income if they themselves do not offer sufficient hours. An employer must not attempt to avoid the exclusivity ban by, for example, stipulating that the individual must seek their permission to look for or accept work elsewhere.

On a date to be appointed, s. 153 of the Act will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996, so that exclusivity terms in zero -hours contracts will no longer be enforceable, and regulations may specify other circumstances under which employers may not restrict what other work zero -hours workers can do. Some commentators have observed that the number of such contracts may be under-reported, as many people may be confusing them with casual employment, and may not be reporting them as temporary.

A major franchise of Subway also uses the contracts, which state, “The company has no duty to provide you with work. Your hours of work are not predetermined and will be notified to you on a weekly basis as soon as is reasonably practicable in advance by your store manager.

The survey found that larger companies are more likely to use zero -hours contracts. British business leaders have supported them, stating that they provide a flexible labor market.

These included Sports Direct and two cinema chains, Carbon and Every man. However, Cineworld, another leading cinema chain that also owns Picture house, has come under scrutiny for continuing to use the contract format, with the Ritzy living wage protests at London's Ritzy Cinema especially prominent.

zero hour contract benefits
(Source: www.highspeedtraining.co.uk)

The Institute of Directors, a chartered organization of British business leaders, has defended the contracts as providing a flexible labor market, citing the lack of flexibility in Italy and Spain. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP has also argued that they benefit employees, including students, by providing flexibility, and could provide a route into more permanent employment.

Casual labor contracts in Canada can have “no guaranteed minimum hours,” place “no obligation on the employer to provide work”, and pay can be “pro rated in line with hours worked.” ^ “Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015”, legislation.gov.UK, The National Archives, 2015 c. 26 ^ Unman, Phillip (8 September 2016).

“More than 900,000 UK workers now on zero -hours contracts ". “ Zero hours” contracts and the flexible labor market”.

Zero -hours contracts : 5.5 m Britons “are on deals offering little guaranteed work”: Unite survey finds 22% of workers employed by private firms are on contracts promising less than three hours a week”. The government's refusal to address the growing scandal of zero -hours contracts is creating a sub-class of insecure and low-paid employment.

“Pressure mounts on Sports Direct over zero -hours contracts : Unite demands meeting with company founder Mike Ashley over contracts that do not provide workers with set hours”. Zero -hours contract figures were wrong, ONS admits”.

slave cartoon cartoons galleys funny comics employment forced cartoonstock law dislike
(Source: www.cartoonstock.com)

“McDonald's offer staff the chance to get off zero -hours contracts ". “Burger King and Domino's Pizza also using zero -hours contracts : British Retail Consortium calls on employers to act responsibly amid revelations about fast food chain workers”.

^ Neville, Simon; Matthew Taylor; Phillip Unman (30 July 2013). “Buckingham Palace uses zero -hours contracts for summer staff: The 350 part-time workers deployed during summer opening of the royal family's London residence have no guaranteed work”.

“Carbon and Every man cinema staff on zero -hours contracts ". “Cineworld boss pledges to continue with zero -hours contracts ".

The CBI says that labor market flexibility, including zero -hours contracts, supported job creation during the recent post-recession recovery. “Economic Outlook: Turn sharp left for the 1970s and Corbynomics”.

“Every man cinema chain is next to drop zero -hours contracts ". “Ritzy cinema living wage strike disrupts BFI London film festival”.

contract zero hours template employment vat
(Source: www.eldirect.co.uk)

^ Archived 16 August 2014 at the Payback Machine ^ “Kiwis tied to zero hour contracts speak out”. ^ Zero hour contracts officially history”.

Bess, Julia; Force, Chris; Moore, San; Stuart, Mark (February 2013). “The National Minimum Wage, earnings and hours in the domiciliary care sector” (PDF).

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