Are zero hours contracts right for you?

Zero contracts means zero obligations for employers to provide work or for workers to accept it. Zero hour workers have the same rights as standard employees; however, due to breaks in their contracts their rights to accrue over time may be affected. Workers are also entitled to the National Minimum Wage and annual leave and any work-related travel expenses.

According to ACAS, when using zero hour contracts, employers should actively monitor their need as in many cases it is more beneficial to sign up for agency workers or recruit staff on the basis of fixed term contracts.

Benefits for the employer:

  • Staff levels can fluctuate easily according to demand
  • There is no on-going requirement to provide guaranteed levels of work for staff
  • Zero hour contracts can be cheaper than using agencies as it cuts out the middle-man and the fees that come along with him.

Benefits for the worker:

  • Provides flexible hours of employment with the same basic employment rights
  • No on-going requirement to accept offers and no consequences
  • Gives the opportunity to gather experience and skills.

The main benefits for employers is the break it can provide in the contract of employment. So long as there is a minimum break of a full calendar week (i.e. from Sunday to Saturday), the employer can claim that there has been a break in the contract. This prevents the worker from accruing certain rights such as annual leave. Equally, the employer must make sure that the worker is paid for any accrued holiday pay. Remember, if the worker develops their position to that of employment status, they are also subject to the same disciplinary or notice procedures. This relationship can also be interpreted in different ways, so each case is different. This also becomes important when a worker request maternity leave or the rights to flexible working.

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