Zero hour contracts; know your rights

Planning your finances around your monthly pay can be tenuous at the best of times, so imagine not knowing when or where your next cheque will come from. Those workers on a zero-hour contract have to contend daily with this financial uncertainty.

The latest study conducted by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, found that the number of workers on a zero-hour contract could be higher than originally estimated. The Institute questioned over 1,000 businesses and found that around one fifth had or were recruiting staff using a zero hour contract. This equates to an estimated one million British workers.


Why do the contracts exist?

According to employers the flexible contracts allow them to source staff to suit their business needs. The contracts are more commonly found in the voluntary and public sectors where businesses are highly affected by consumer and seasonal trends.

Why are the contracts worrying?

Zero-hour contracts can cause workers concern over the stability of their future pay checks. Around 14% of workers on a zero hours contract state that their employer often fails to give them enough working hours. Zero-hour contracts additionally do not provide workers with the same standardised rights as those on a full or part time contract.

If you are currently being affected by a zero hours contract, please see the following information. Under a zero-hours contract:

  • Employers are not required to provide employees with any hours of work.
  • Employees are able to refuse work they find unsuitable.
    • Note: Some contracts will state that employees must not refuse offered hours.
  • Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their workers.
  • Sick pay is not included under a zero-hours contract; however the employee is entitled to holiday pay in accordance with working time regulations.
  • Employees are entitled to be paid for any hours they spend waiting for work on the company’s premises.

Source CIPD and EDP 06.08.2013

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