Zero hours contracts give employers the flexibility only to offer an employee work where they have the work available. They have no obligation to offer work to the employee and likewise the employee has no obligation to accept the work. This avoids creating an employment relationship and hence workers have fewer rights – for example they have no right to holiday pay.
Zero hours contracts are used by employers to cope with fluctuating demand and to increase employee reliability. A recent Government consultation has indicated however that these contracts are being abused by unscrupulous employers.
Today, Vince Cable the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, announced plans to ban exclusivity clauses in zero-hour contracts. These clauses prevent an employee from working for another employer, even though the first employer is not guaranteeing any work. This is seen by many as unfair as it can leave workers without the ability to earn an income.
One potential risk is that employers may seek to get around the ban by offering “one hour” contracts rather than zero hours contracts. The Government intends to consult further on how to prevent employers evading the ban, to develop a code of practice for the fair use of zero hours contracts and to provide more information to employers and employees using zero hours contracts.
If you are an employee who works under a zero hours contract, or an employer who uses or intends to use these contracts and you would like further advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free 30 minute consultation. One of our expert employment solicitors will be happy to help.
The Backhouse Solicitors Employment Law Team