Are Zero Hour Contracts Legal In Scotland

Danielle Fletcher
• Monday, 14 December, 2020
• 7 min read

‘ 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.

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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. 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. Many businesses provide a regular service or product and have a broadly predictable timetable or output and so permanent or fixed hour contracts can be more appropriate.

Whether the individual is an employee or worker and what employment rights they are entitled to if the individual is an employee, how statutory employment entitlements will be accrued where appropriate, for example, redundancy pay the process by which work will be offered and assurance that they are not obliged to accept work on every occasion if they so wish how the individual’s contract will be brought to an end, for example, at the end of each work task or with notice given by either party 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.

(Source: londonweed.net)

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. 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. “The Scottish Government firmly believes that making employees feel valued, rewarded and engaged in their work is good for growing a sustainable, strong economy.

“Work practices which place unfair burdens on employees are unacceptable and undermine our ambitions to grow our economy and tackle inequalities in our society. This is in direct contrast to today’s Oxfam report into ‘what makes decent work’ where job security is highlighted as one of the top priorities for low paid people.

Zero hours contracts for non-permanent staff: FOR release The controversial contracts allow employers to hire staff with no ­guarantee of work and cancel shifts at short notice.

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According to charities, the ­precarious nature of the jobs are ­forcing hundreds of workers to go to food banks for help. Zero -hours jobs in Scots cities ­currently advertised on recruitment sites include agency nurses, hotel concierges, restaurant waiters, ­drivers, security guards and even funeral service workers.

The STUCK has called on the UK Government to give workers a ­statutory right to an employment contract, with a minimum of 16 hours work per week. STUCK deputy general secretary Dave Gotham said: “It’s really concerning that, despite some of our successes to support workers to challenge zero -hours, we have seen a rise in the number of contracts.

CAS social justice spokesperson Married Green said: “Our evidence shows zero -hours contracts are open to abuse by bad employers who take advantage of their one-sided flexibility. This can leave workers with little certainty about their working pattern or income, which can lead to stress and financial difficulties.

“We also see cases where shifts are cancelled at the last minute, leaving workers out of pocket having already paid for travel or childcare. “The worst cases we see involve workers facing retaliation from their employer for turning down requests to work at the last minute.

That’s why we have launched a campaign to help people understand their rights and to report bad employers.” The Russell Trust, which supports 1,200 food banks, said nearly one in 20 households (4%) it helps has an unstable income due to self-employment or being on a zero hours contract.

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(Source: giantimagemanagement.com)

Last week figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed the number of Scots without a job increased by 8.3% from July to September, to 110,000 people. But the Scottish Government was accused of misleading the public after Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s officials claimed youth unemployment was down, hailing a 0.3% drop in the 16-24 jobless rate.

Dr Stuart McIntyre, from ­impartial think-tank the Fraser of Al lander Institute, said that fall came from uncertified figures, while separate statistics published by the ONS showed unemployment in the 16-24 age group had actually risen by 0.8% in a year. That’s why it’s essentially the SNP drops its anti-business agenda and starts attracting growth and investment.

By doing that, better jobs would be created and the only people working on these contracts would be those who find it beneficial.” Politics and economics student ISIN Duncan, 21, worked on zero -hours contracts in a bar in Glasgow last year.

ISIN, in his second year at university in the city, said: “There were times when you would only get 12 hours’ work and wait on the phone ringing to offer you more. Anne McAllister revealed the misery of zero -hours contracts that forced her to work long and unpredictable hours.

Anne, 56, from Easter house, Glasgow, said: “Like many mothers, I took a job that was described as part-time, which allowed me to look after my daughter. “But I wasn’t happy to leave my daughter at home on her own and my brother helped out by coming round to the house.

Twenty-year-old Josh Morris said working a precarious zero -hours contract prevents him from planning a future. In the summer, while other staff were on holiday or off sick, Josh worked up to 70 hours a week.

“In the days of the shipyards, workers would turn up at the docks and the managers would stand at the gates and say: ‘You, you and you have work today. Geopolitics SNP MP Chris Stephens last year presented a bill to eradicate zero hours contracts and tighten up the definition of a worker in UK employment law.

Many of the jobs are advertised on recruitment sites and include listings such as catering work, hotel concierges, restaurant waiters, ­drivers, security guards and agency nurses. According to the Office for National Statistics, 70,000 people in Scotland are on a zero -hours contract, which signifies a ten per cent increase on the previous year's figure of 64,000.

The Taylor Review, commissioned by the Westminster Government in 2016 in response to the rise of precarious work, advised that zero -hours contracts should not be banned. Citizens Advice Scotland social justice spokesperson Married Green told the Sunday Post: “Our evidence shows zero -hours contracts are open to abuse by bad employers who take advantage of their one-sided flexibility.

The Scottish Government told the Sunday post: “The proportion of people employed on a zero -hours contract in Scotland is marginally lower than the UK as a whole. “Fair Work First asks employers to commit to no inappropriate use of zero -hours contracts, investment in skills and training, and action to tackle the gender pay gap.

Impact Assessments generally accompany all UK Government interventions of a regulatory nature that affect the private sector, civil society organizations and public services. They apply regardless of whether the regulation originates from a domestic or international source and can accompany primary (Acts etc) and secondary legislation (SI's).

Employee organizations tend to argue that the contracts result in financial insecurity for workers who lack key employment rights; employer organizations stress their utility when seeking to meet fluctuating demand and argue that they play a vital role in keeping people in employment. Prior to the 2015 General Election, the Coalition Government and the Opposition proposed measures to address concerns about the use of zero -hours contracts.

Notably, section 153 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and supporting regulations seek to prevent the use of “exclusivity clauses” in zero -hours contracts (i.e. prohibit a contractual requirement for a worker to work exclusively for one employer irrespective of the hours offered). The National Minimum Wage Bill 2019-21 was introduced by Paula Barker MP following the Private Members' Bills Ballot on 9 January 2021.

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