What Are Zero-Hours Contracts?

What Are Zero-Hours Contracts?

These days it seems like discussions around zero-hours contracts are never out of the news, with companies as large and diverse as Sports Direct, CentreParcs and MyHermes coming under fire for their working practices.

Companies such as these have unwittingly become famous for the large number of people they employ on zero-hours contracts, with Sports Direct and other retail businesses citing the benefits of having staff only doing the hours the business needs them to do each month and delivery services such as MyHermes paying for each delivery made.

What are zero-hours contracts?

Zero-hours contracts have seen a dramatic rise over the past few years, with businesses and employees in a range of industries and situations valuing the flexibility they provide.

Indeed, in the last year alone the number of people on zero-hours contracts has risen 20%, from 747,000 to over 900,000. This growth continues a trend of dramatic growth in zero-hours employees since 2012, when just 250,000 people were on this type on contract.

Commonly used in sectors such as retail, leisure and hospitality, zero-hours contracts have been subject to much scrutiny as their popularity has grown.

What rights do you have with zero-hours contracts?

A large number of people worry that zero-hours equals zero-rights. Fortunately, this is not the case. Zero-hours workers have the same employment rights as workers on traditional fixed-hours contracts. Below is a table taken from a government consultation on zero-hours workers which details the rights of employees throughout the UK.

Most zero-hours workers will fall under the employment status of “Employee” or “Worker”, but we would recommend double-checking exactly what your employment status is so you can know for sure what your rights are.

What Are Zero-Hours Contracts?

Are zero-hours contracts legal?

There is technically no legal definition of a zero-hours contract in UK employment law. Generally, what we refer to as a zero-hours contract is a standard contract of employment with a disclaimer stating that the company is under no obligation to provide you set hours and you have no obligation to accept the hours offered to you.

This differs from traditional part-time contracts where a minimum number of hours are stated on your contract which the employer is obligated to provide you and you are required to work.

As long as you freely enter into this contract, knowing exactly what it entails, this type of agreement is completely legal.

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