Zero Hours Contracts

The issue of Zero Hours Contracts has recently been in the public eye following publicity about their use in organisations such as Amazon and Sports Direct.  The Government is reviewing the position of “Zero Hours Contracts”.  Zero Hour Contracts are nothing new, although their popularity and usage has increased substantially in the last 5 years as employers seek to find cost effective ways of managing short term staff needs.

They are particularly popular in retail and the hospitality industries.  In short, people agree to work as and when required but are not guaranteed hours and there is no obligation on an employer to offer work.  Equally a worker has no obligation to accept any work that is offered.

Workers are not entirely without rights in that they must be paid the minimum wage, the Working Time Regulations will apply, they will accrue holidays and there may be some limited statutory Sick Pay entitlement.

In reality, no notice period is applicable to Zero Hours Contracts as a worker can just choose not to accept any work offered and an employer can decide not to offer any work to the individual.  This ultimately brings about the end of relationship.

These contracts do represent a flexible way of working albeit it will not engender staff loyalty.  For certain individuals, the flexibility it provides and the lack of obligation to work may suit their current lifestyle needs i.e. students or parents with young families.  However, if individuals are looking to build up a work record of employment or need a regular and set income to enable them to obtain mortgages or other financial products, a Zero Hours Contract is probably not going to be the right sort of work arrangement for them.

If you are an employer who is considering the use of Zero Hour Contracts and wants more advice regarding how they operate please do not hesitate to contact Katie Kearns on 024 76 553181.  Equally, if you are a worker who works under a Zero Hour Contract and is unsure about your rights and obligations under the terms of that contract, please contact Katie who will be able to advise.