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 the number of hours they will work. 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. This means they will be entitled to at least the National Minimum Wage and paid annual leave. They will also 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 temporary and irregular jobs. But it can also provide the same flexibility for an individual needing time to study or for childcare. Examples of acceptable 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. Therefore, always REMEMBER zero hours contracts do not allow employers to avoid their responsibilities.
There are other solutions to short term employment problems. For example, overtime for permanent staff, employ a part timer, allow annualised hours, or hire agency staff.
What to include in a zero hours contract
- Be clear whether they are an employee or a worker and what rights they are entitled to.
- Inform them how their entitlements will be accrued and paid. For example, holiday pay.
- Tell them how work will be offered and how they are to accept or decline.
- Make it clear how the employment will be brought to an end. For example, notice or periodic.
- Do not include an exclusivity clause, because 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