A Plain English Guide To British Employment Law

Zero Hours Contracts

What are zero hours contracts?

Zero hours contracts allow an employer to call on employees as and when they are required – there is no obligation to provide steady work, or any at all. On the other hand, zero-hours contracts provide employees with the choice to accept or refuse any work which is provided. So there is flexibility for both parties and no obligation on either side.

Traditionally people working on zero hour contracts were undertaking “piece work” or “on call work” – such as interpretors – but, since the recession took hold, increasing numbers of employers have adopted zero-hours as a way of abiding by employment law legislation without having to make financial commitments. Some commentators argue that these type of flexible employment contracts only benefit employers, but others suggest that they are suitable for many employees who don’t wish to be tied down to set hours.

The main criteria of zero-hours contracts are as follows:

  • employers do not have to provide any work
  • employees are on call to work when they are needed
  • employees do not have to do work when asked

For further information on zero-hours contracts, take a look at this ACAS information page.