Are Zero Hour Contracts Still Legal

James Lee
• Saturday, 24 October, 2020
• 13 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.

(Source: rememeberlessfool.blogspot.com)


Anyone working a zero hours contract has statutory employment rights. A minimum notice period if their employment is ending.

The right to work no more than 48 hours on average per week. The right to opt out of only working 48 hours on average per week.

Statutory minimum length of rest breaks. 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. It's vital that you remember the employment status of everyone you hire.

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(Source: giantimagemanagement.com)

This post from Mr Lender aims to explain just what a zero hour contract is, how they work, and how you can get by on one. A zero hour contract is often defined as a type of employment where the employer is under no obligation to provide a set number of hours, and a worker is under no obligation to accept any work they’re offered.

Workers on a zero hour contract are often used to cover spare shifts or to step in if a permanent member of staff goes off sick or on maternity. Staff on zerohourcontracts are still entitled to statutory annual leave, and they should still be paid at least the National Minimum Wage.

The other benefit is that the employer is under no obligation to provide a continuous number of hours as they would with an employee. As mentioned previously, there are a number of benefits for the worker too when on a zero hour contract.

The most notable benefit is it provides a flexible approach to work which may be something of interest to someone who is already in employment but has the zero hour contract job on the side, or maybe even a single parent who needs to balance work with their home life. However, since the law was introduced in 2015 to outlaw the exclusivity clause used by employers, it’s now possible for workers to have more than one job at once.

‘ 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.

All staff, regardless of their contract, are entitled to employment rights and should be treated fairly and within the law. 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.

(Source: petrofilm.com)

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.

The recent amendments came into effect on 1 April this year, and while many have hailed them as a major victory for workers’ rights in New Zealand, they have only tailored availability clauses in employment agreements rather than banning them outright. An employee can refuse to perform work additional to their guaranteed hours if the agreement does not contain an availability provision.

It must also provide for the payment of reasonable compensation to the employee for making themselves available to perform the work (s 67D(3)) The agreement must also specify the reasonable compensation that must be paid to an employee if the cancellation does not comply with the notice requirements (s 67G).

In that scenario, there is little to prevent the employer retreating to the minimum guaranteed hours if they became dissatisfied with an employee. The true use for such agreements is genuinely intermittent work for the purpose of matters such as covering sick employees.

In March 2015, the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 received Royal Assent. 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.

(Source: petrofilm.com)

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. Subway workers are also required, as a condition of employment, to waive their rights to limit their workweek to 48 hours.

The Workplace Employment Relations Survey conducted by the government of the UK in 2004 and 2011 shows that the proportion of workplaces that have some employees on zero -hours contracts has increased from 4% in 2004 to 8% in 2011. 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. They may suit some people such as retirees and students who want occasional earnings and are able to be entirely flexible about when they work.

Vince Cable, business secretary of the government, is considering closer regulation of the contracts but has ruled out a ban. Labor MPs Alison McGovern and Andy Sanford have campaigned to ban or better regulate the practice.

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. 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.

(Source: petrofilm.com)

^ “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 cover more than 1 m UK workers: Poll of more than 1,000 employers reveals controversial contract used far more widely in the UK than government data suggests”. 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”. “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.

Zero -hours contracts could be subject to new legislation, says Vince Cable: Business secretary says employer exclusivity is main issue for review, as figures show one million are on zero -hours deals”. “Every man cinema chain is next to drop zero -hours contracts ".

“Ritzy cinema living wage strike disrupts BFI London film festival”. ^ Archived 16 August 2014 at the Payback Machine ^ “Kiwis tied to zero hour contracts speak out”.

^ “Restaurant Brands says no to zero hour contracts ". Bess, Julia; Force, Chris; Moore, San; Stuart, Mark (February 2013).

“The National Minimum Wage, earnings and hours in the domiciliary care sector” (PDF). Social Science Research Network (Working paper).

Penny cook, Matthew; Cory, Giselle; Lakes, Vichy (June 2013). “A Matter of Time: The rise of zero -hours contracts (PDF).

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