Zero hour contracts

What is a zero hour contract?  

 A zero hour contract is a working agreement whereyour employer does not have to give you any minimum working hours and you do not have to take any work offered.  

 Zero hour contracts are often used in industries like: hospitality, warehouse work, delivery driving, bank work (for example in healthcare) and more. 

What are some examples of zero hour contracts?

Sam is a care worker – she generally finds out her hours one week in advance, sometimes less. Most weeks she works between 40 and 50 hours but sometimes when circumstances change this drops down to 0 with no notice. This makes it hard to plan her childcare arrangements. She sometimes travels to work but then has to turn around and come home with no work if her manager decides she is not required.  

Layla works for a fast-food restaurant – she finds out her hours when the rota is released two weeks in advance – she works anything between 12 and 20 hours per week. She is able to turn down shifts that she doesn’t want to do. This arrangement suits her for now as she is working alongside studying. 

What rights do I have on a zero hour contract?

On a zero-hours contract you might be classed as an employee or a worker – this is your employment status. Your rights are based on this employment status, not your zero hour contract.  

Check your Employment Status.

All employers must:

  • make it clear whether you are an employee or a worker  
  • pay you at least the National Minimum Wage, no matter how many hours you work or are offered  
  • tell you what your rights are to things like sick pay, holiday entitlement and redundancy pay 
  • let you know how the contract will be ended 
  • pay your wages through PAYE (this stands for Pay As You Earn and is the way you pay tax)  

You have the same right to rest as other employees and workers – this includes: 

  • during the working day (at least 20minutes if you are expected to work more than 6 hours) 
  • between working days or shifts (11 hours between finishing work and starting again)  
  • between working weeks (24 hours every 7 working days or 48 hours every 14 working days) 

What should I do if my employer is treating me unfairly on a zero hour contract? 

It can be upsetting if you think you’re being treated unfairly, and you might not know what to do or who to speak to. You do have options and there are specialist organisations who can offer advice and support you through the process.  

Have a look at this helpful page from ACAS about how to raise a problem at work.

You can also contact their free helpline on 0300 123 1100

If you think the problem might be discrimination – have a look at this helpful guide from Citizens Advice