A zero hours contract is…
Often a casual agreement between an employer and an individual. The employer offers the individual work with no guarantee of number of hours and this ‘ad hoc’ offer can be accepted or declined by the individual.
The only legal constraint is that the employer MUST pay the individual at least the minimum wage.
This does not affect the self-employed status of an individual.
The individual’s employment rights
An individual on a zero hours contract will enjoy the same rights as an employee or worker: namely: be entitled to at least the National Minimum Wage, paid annual leave, receive rest breaks and protection from discrimination. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Where / when can zero hours contracts work?
Zero hours contracts can benefit both the employer and the individual. They can provide the flexibility needed for some transient and irregular jobs, but also provide the same flexibility for an individual needing time to study or for childcare. Examples of permissible zero hours contracts include New Businesses / New Service / Seasonal Work / Unexpected sickness / Special events / etc.
However…zero hours contracts should not be used as a permanent alternative if not appropriate or justifiable and REMEMBER zero hours contracts do not allow employers to avoid their responsibilities – see above.
There are other solutions to short term employment problems: For example; Overtime for permanent staff / employee a part timer / annualised hours / agency staff / etc.
What to include in a zero hours contract
- Stipulate whether they are an employee or a worker and what rights they are entitled to.
- Inform them how entitlements will be accrued and paid – for example holiday pay.
- Tell them how work will be offered and how they are to accept / decline.
- Make it clear how the employment will be brought to an end – i.e. notice or periodic.
- Do not include an exclusivity clause – it is illegal to stop them looking for alternative work.
- Be transparent in what the work and contract entails and be mindful of individual needs.
If you have a query about whether Zero Hours contracts are for your business please contact us, we’ll be happy to talk it through with you in confidence.
Call us on 01706 565332 or e-mail us