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Zero Hours Contracts

In the past few days, there has been a lot of talk in the media about ‘zero hours contracts’, following a survey undertaken by the CIPD which suggests that there are more than 1 million people currently working under a zero hours contract (official figures state around 250,000).

There is no question that from an employee perspective it is usually desirable that everyone has security of employment and a guaranteed number of hours, however, in the current climate, from a business perspective, this is sometimes not possible.


In these uncertain times, businesses need to be flexible in terms of their workforce, to ensure that they can respond quickly to changes and fluctuations in work and the demand for labour.

There are also certain industries where ‘zero hours contracts’ are used extensively, where the nature of the business requires flexibility and reflects an a-typical labour requirement to meet needs of the business –  the hotel and leisure industry for example. This arrangement can often suit employees who want to work part time and flexibly, where their availability to work may also change regularly – e.g. students.

So in summary, zero hours contracts have a part to play in the way that businesses resource their staff and when used appropriately can work well for both employer and employee.

A few considerations when dealing with zero hours contracts:

  • Some employment rights are maintained where the number of hours granted under zero hours contract reach a certain threshold, i.e. statutory sick pay and maternity pay
  • Holiday entitlement accrues from day one / hour one

Some things to be aware of:-

  • Individuals working consistent regular hours under a zero hours contract may be deemed by an Employment Tribunal to have a standard contract of employment, with a minimum level of contractual hours and commitment
  • Work can (often) be turned down when offered


Please contact our Employment and Human Resource Management Team if you would like any advice on this or any other HR matter.

By Louise Addison


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