Are Zero Hour Contracts Legal Uk 2020

Earl Hamilton
• Thursday, 14 January, 2021
• 11 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.

(Source: petrofilm.com)


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.

payslip law payslips explained
(Source: fmpglobal.co.uk)

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 millionaire businessman Julian Richer is bankrolling a campaign that aims to stamp out the use of controversial zero -hours contracts in Britain.

And they don’t get their travel costs back, so it’s like being on negative pay.” Workers on zero -hours contracts were being rejected by landlords and unable to get a mortgage, he explained, adding: “Nobody should have to live like that in 21st century Britain.” With the government unlikely to introduce legislation to outlaw the practice, Zero Hours Justice, which has its own legal team, plans to use “strategic litigation” to bring about change.

It also plans to use its website to “name and shame” companies using such contracts in order to encourage consumers to vote with their feet and shock employees who do not realize that colleagues, often through agencies, are being employed on that basis. Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at businesses Richer, who last year gave control of his Richer Sounds hi-fi and TV retail chain to staff, champions the need for employers to provide secure, well-paid jobs for their staff.

(Source: petrofilm.com)

The self-made millionaire has long argued that a happy workforce was key to his own success and is passionate that other companies should follow his example. Richer, who also backs Tax Watch UK, the investigative think tank that pores over the finances of multinational companies and wealthy individuals, added: “I’m not a mad maverick, jumping around from one thing to another.

Organizations considering using zero -hours contracts should think carefully about the business rationale for doing this, including whether there are other types of flexible working or employment practices that would deliver the same benefits. However, employers also regard zero -hours contracts as a means of providing flexibility for individuals, with the same research reporting that just over half of respondents say they use them for this reason.

Ideally, line managers should also receive training, so they understand fully the different types, their advantages and disadvantages. In May 2015, following a consultation exercise and as part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, the government banned exclusivity clauses for zero -hours contracts.

Further regulations came into force in January 2016 giving zero hours workers the right not to be unfairly dismissed or subjected to a detriment for failing to comply with an exclusivity clause, and to claim compensation. All workers should be able to move towards a more predictable and stable contract, subject to conditions set out in legislation that the government plans to bring forward.

It also seeks views on what guidance government can provide to support employers and encourage best practice to be shared across industries. Overall, the package is aimed at addressing the problem of ‘one-sided flexibility’ which implies that the proposals stand a very good chance of becoming law.

(Source: londonweed.net)

Employers should only use zero -hours contracts where the flexibility inherent in these types of arrangement suits both the organization and the individual. To address this, employers and line managers need to ensure that atypical workers are eligible for their organization’s training and development activities.

Performance management processes should also be setup to give atypical workers regular feedback. We believe a reasonable minimum would be to reimburse any travel expenses incurred and provide at least an hour’s pay as compensation.

Some employers appear to go further than this, for example by paying employees in full for shifts cancelled at short notice. This seems a reasonable position if organizations also prevent or penalize employees from cancelling prearranged work at short notice.

This could be written into employment policies and terms and conditions with practice reviewed periodically. Berwyn is the CIPD’s Public Policy Adviser for a wide range of labor market issues.

Read more Q and As Frequently asked questions on the legal issues relating to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment Zerohourcontracts are particularly prevalent where seasonal work or special events require additional levels of staff over short periods for example, in the retail, hospitality, leisure and catering industries.

That said, zerohourcontracts can be used by any employer in need of an accessible pool of workers in response to fluctuating demand or temporary staff shortages. For the employer, a zero hour contract avoids any obligation to provide guaranteed levels of work.

Under zero hour contract law the worker category provides a floor of rights to those who do not satisfy the tests for employee status but are not working for themselves. This includes the right to working time limits (not more than 48 hours on average per week) and to paid annual leave, as well as protection from unlawful discrimination and whistleblowing.

Under zero hour contract law you are entitled to raise a dispute or lodge a claim in the employment tribunal in relation to an alleged breach of your statutory rights in the same way as an employee. Similarly, in relation to working time disputes you may lodge a complaint with the employment tribunal.

The law relating to zero hour contract law can be confusing, not least the regulations governing your statutory rights in respect of the national minimum wage and working time limits, as well as any unfair dismissal arising out of working for another employer contrary to a contractual exclusivity clause. Further, you may have additional rights arising out of your contract of employment that may elevate your status from ‘worker’ to ‘employee’.

Whether you are a ‘worker’ or ‘employee’ will depend on the terms of your employment contract, as well as the nature of your working arrangement in practice. For example, If you have regularly worked the same shifts for six months you may be deemed to be an employee, irrespective of any zero hour contract.

A legal adviser specializing in employment law will be able to advise you on your potential rights and possible remedies, providing you with a legal assessment of your particular case under zero hour contract law, as well as what practical steps you can take to resolve any workplace dispute. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such.

My employers want to save money and have decided that they want to reduce the majority of the employees' contracted working hours. Your contract of employment will hold the key as to the legality and fairness of this situation.

However, before we start delving into what is and is not legally acceptable in this situation, it is also important to consider the practicalities of the issue. Too many people get all gun ho about their rights, especially in terms of employment law, and while it is terribly important that you are not badly treated, it is also necessary to appreciate how you can damage your own career by being overly righteous.

In the current economic climate, there are a number of companies that have to reduce the working hours of many of their staff. They do this rather than Making People Redundant as they hope the situation will change in the near future, and so they will have retained their staff and their skills.

However, if your company is facing difficulties, do check that you are not simply jumping from the frying pan into the fire. However, the company is offering the 7 jobs in a part-time capacity (80%) If they offer me the reduced hours and I turn it down I will be at risk of loosing my redundancy and being dismissed.

Started on 20 hours first two years then gradually doing longer as got very busy so doing 30hours and more up until my boss just told me I would now just be doing 10hours with no discussion or warning. He says cuts are being made but as far as I see its only myself. Hello, the NGO where I work in the UK is experiencing financial difficulties and decided to cut down my hours from 33 to 15.

Started on 20 hours first two years then gradually doing longer as got very busy so doing 30hours up until now. But my boss just told me I would now just be doing 10hours with no discussion or warning. He says cuts are being made but as far as I see its only myself.

I started working with an IP law firm 8-1-1977. We have 5 0ffices SND our NO was starting a computer program and moving trusted employees into a position called leg Assets. After 4 was with the firm, I was ask if I would like a promotion to take this newly created position of prep & filing TM renewal apps worldwide. After about six months I was told I could start signing my own work because was excelling on the job.

After 10 years I was eligible for 20 days vacation. All employees were on salary worked 9 to 5 with a shed 1 hr lunch. I accepted and worked 30 hours a week for 9 years and went back to 37.5.

2010 my husband died after 66 wk illness. When I came back the trademark dept lost at least plus employees because of the new MNG partner. She cut my hrs to 30 a wk and I had no assistant but was expected to do the same job. Dr said 8/29/18 my disability was extended to 10/14/18. I have been with the firm 41 yrs & I'm a 64 yr old widow. I sent in the order for the ext of disability today. No response so far.

On Thursday I was called into my bosses office to be told he wants to reduce my hours to 4.30 start and 7.30 finish, so I will lose 5 hours a week and cannot afford to do this, also I am suffering really badly with per menopause symptoms and this is all making me worse. My colleague just informed me that some months ago my employer removed 30 minutes from the actual recorded hours worked as a consequence of my colleagues alleged 'laziness'.

I am a diligent worker and have never had a warning of any form, but my hours were retrospectively reduced as punitive action as I was working together with the offender. I feel constrained to complain as I am on minimum wage unskilled work in a blame culture.

Hi I work at hair salon when I first interview the employer had agreed to give me permanent full time job which is 6days/week, but I found out he noted me as a permanent part-time worker. I have now been told that my hours will be cut as the reception team will now be doing the room attendants schedule instead.

I have been told this is an unacceptable number of hours worked for a manger and will be demoted accordingly. Hi there, at the end of last year members of staff were individually met to discuss ways in which the company could save money.

Consequently, within a month of doing so another person was employed on the same collective hours we had given up. However, if you’re not satisfied or the issue is not resolved by way of explanation or action, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing.

Hi there, at the end of last year members of staff were individually met to discuss ways in which the company could save money. Consequently, within a month of doing so another person was employed on the same collective hours we had given up.

I was then requested to work on a phased return, I said I would see how I got on as I have been experiencing knee pain since my operation causing me lack of sleep & a lot of pain. As the weeks went on I could not see myself returning to my full 37hours, so I requested to drop to 24hrs over a three-day period.

My manager has now told me that there isn't enough work for my previous role & they want to reduce my hours to 14hours a week. Other staff have requested to reduce their hours & they have been granted them with no issues.

Please could you tell me my rights as I work in a school as a cleaner meaning that I have to do the same hrs in term time and during holidays so for example if I work 15hrs per week I have to work 15hrs per week during a school holiday. When I started employment I could work 8-9hrs per day during school holidays to get my work done meaning as long as my 15hrs were done this was fine. Since the last holidays my line manager has told us that due to cut backs we can no longer work for more than 5hrs at a time and are no longer entitled to a paid break of any sort. Since being told this I have been told that my boss above my line manager knew nothing about this and as far as she is concerned said we can work 8hrs per day very confused what can I do as I think my line manager has made this rule up to suit herself. ten Unless redundancy/voluntary redundancy is on the table, I'm not sure requesting it is a good idea.

Your company might have a genuine reason for having to lower the hours- which is sounds like it does if there is no work coming in. If you don't see any future work coming in, then you can either stick it out hoping redundancies might be made if your employer can't sustain the workforce, or leave before.

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