What Are Zero-Hour Contracts? Employment

Over the last decade, there has been a lot spoken about in regard to zero-hour contracts in the news – with some people being for them and other people being opposed to them. If you’ve never spent any time in such a position, it can be difficult to understand just exactly what Zero-Hour Contracts are.

Building Better Opportunities have put together this great article to help you understand just what a zero-hour contract is. By having this information, we hope that you’ll get an idea of whether such a contract would be right for you. 

What Are Zero-Hour Contracts?

Zero-Hour contracts are a specialised type of contract wherein the employer is under no legal obligation to offer the employee any working hours and the employee is under no legal obligation to accept any. This creates a situation where at the start of the month neither employer nor employee has a concrete understanding of who will be working or when.

What Are The Benefits of Zero-Hour Contracts?

The chief benefit associated with Zero-Hour Contracts is their flexibility. This flexibility is valued by students, who may have to change their working schedule depending on the time of year, and the retired, who may not want to work every day. At the same time, people who already have full-time employment have also found themselves valuing Zero-Hour contracts if they are looking for second jobs and need to work around their full-time employment.

What Are the Negatives of Zero-Hour Contracts?

While many people value the flexibility associated with Zero-Hour Contracts, they do not suit all employers. For example, as previously stated, there is no guarantee of workable hours at the start of the month. This can be an issue if your income relies entirely on the Zero-Hour Contract job and you don’t receive any hours. Likewise, business owners have no exact idea of how many people they will have available at any given shift. 

Are Zero-Hour Contracts Regulated?

Zero-Hour contracts are regulated, just like any other form of working contract. The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, for example, lays out that Zero-Hour employers cannot enforce exclusivity on their employees — meaning that employers cannot ban their employees from working anywhere else.

Which Companies Use Zero-Hour Contracts?

In certain industries, Zero-Hour Contracts are incredibly common. For example:

  • in the hotels and restaurants sector, 19% of all contracts in 2011 were Zero-Hour Contracts.
  • in the health sector, 13% of all employees were on Zero-Hour Contracts in 2011.
  • in the education sector, 10% of all employees were on Zero-Hour Contracts in 2011.

However, all of these are dwarfed by the hospitality industry – with certain major brands using Zero-Hour Contracts for over 75% of their workforce.

Are Zero-Hour Contracts Right For Me?

Ultimately, it’s difficult for us to say. Zero-Hour Contracts work well for some people – particularly students, those who already have full-time positions, and people who have retired. However, they do not work for other people. For example, if you’re looking for a full-time role with a steady income, a zero-hours contract will probably not be right for you. 

Employment Advice in Stoke-On-Trent From Building Better Opportunities

If you would like help determining whether Zero-Hour Contracts work for you, you should contact Building Better Opportunities. We provide high-quality welfare advice in Staffordshire, England – advice designed to help people get into work and keep people in work. We can also help you with welfare benefits, deal with your local county council, or deal with an employment tribunal. We can offer advice face-to-face or via email or phone.

For more information about how we can help you, please contact Building Better Opportunities today.