What is a zero hours contract?

  • What is a zero hours contract?  1

In essence a Zero Hours contract is a casual agreement for employment between an employer and an individual.

There is no requirement on the employer to guarantee work for the employee. The work is offered as and when it arises. Usually the employee is expected to work the shifts offered, but there is no minimum amount of work that they are assured of getting. 

Zero Hours’ contracts can be used to provide a flexible workforce to meet a temporary or changeable need for staff. Examples may include a need for workers to cover:

  • Seasonal increases in demand on services, e.g. Christmas retail or music festival staff;
  • unexpected or last-minute events;
  • temporary staff shortages;
  • on-call/bank work, particularly used in the care sector.

What's a worker under a zero hours contract entitled to?

An individual must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for each hour worked under a zero hours contract, unless they are genuinely self employed.

Workers are also entitled to:

  • annual leave;
  • sick pay;
  • rest breaks; and
  • protection from discrimination.

They don’t normally have the “employee” status, which would allow them to claim for unfair dismissal, maternity pay and leave, flexible working or statutory minimum notice. 

Contact us if you would like further help or advice on this subject.