A zero-hour contract is the name given to a type of contract, where an employer has the discretion to vary employee’s working hours, usually anywhere from full-time to “zero hours”. The employer typically asserts that they have no obligation to provide work for the employee.
There have been a number of changes made to the rules governing these contracts in recent months and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published some guidelines for employers, suggesting the following:
- Zero hour contracts are only appropriate in situations where an employee is engaged in seasonal work or a one-off event
- When recruiting, you should clearly advertise the job as a zero hour contract and inform any applicant that hours are not guaranteed
- You should include within the contract whether you deem the individual an ‘employee’ or a ‘worker’, what rights they are entitled to, how work will be offered to them, and how the contract can be terminated
- As an employer you should give as much notice as possible when you can’t offer work
- This is addition to the fact that exclusivity clauses have been prohibited since May 2015. There is more about this in a previous blog here.
In addition to this guidance, the BIS’s Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hour Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015 give more protection for employees on zero hours contracts. They will have a right not to be unfairly dismissed if the reason is that they have failed to comply with an exclusivity clause. There is no qualifying period of employment needed to bring such a claim. Zero hour workers have the right not to be subjected to detriment because of non-compliance with an exclusivity clause and if you breach these rights, a worker may issue a claim and seek a declaration or compensation.
What does this mean for you as an employer?
If you use zero hours contracts, then you should do the following:
- Review your employment contracts
- Audit your workforce to see if zero hours contracts are the appropriate contracts to use, in line with the BIS guidance.
- Contact us if you need any help with sorting this out! Call us on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.