With the offered benefit of added flexibility in time and finance-related matters, it isn’t a wonder that there are more than a million individuals in zero-hour contracts.
Zero-hour contracts are a type of contract that you can make use of should you want to have a more casual relationship with a potential employee. I say “casual” because of the fact that:
- There are no required hours.
- The employee or worker aren’t obliged to accept work.
- The employer is not obliged to provide work.
That said, this kind of contract is very much beneficial for individuals who need flexible working hours to be in a legally binding contract with an employer who’ll pay them minimum wage as necessary. Alongside this, employees under this contract will have the usual set of rights required by law. All in all, it sounds like a pretty good situation to be in. So what’s the catch?
The Downfalls of Zero-Hour Contracts
One of the negatives, lawsuits, arise when the employers don’t fully understand what legalities are tied with zero-hour contracts. To name a few areas that need familiarity:
- Exclusivity clauses in zero-hour contracts are a big no-no. Under the “Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act” an explicit clause or even a stipulation which hinders the act of looking for another job is prohibited.
- Necessity of performance or provision of Health and Safety obligations towards the employee or possibly the worker.
- Then there is also the fact that even with no standardized time for work, zero-hour employees still have the right to rest periods.
These are small nuances that an employer should know. If an employer is confidently familiar with this contract then there should be no issue but zero-hour contracts can be confusing so make sure a employment lawyer makes sure the contract is compliant.
Additionally, while employers don’t have to provide work, employees or workers don’t have to accept work either. Employers might find themselves in trouble if no one takes them on their offer for work.
Employees would have all the rights that a “full-time employee” would have. They would not be any different. However, there are some negatives associated with being a zero-hour employee.
- Employee’s number of hours aren’t guaranteed.
- Employee’s can’t demand for more work or hours. If they aren’t provided work, they can’t file a case against their employer for it. Employers are legally allowed to not give them work.
- Alongside the first two downsides, there is also the matter of a lack of pay. While they have the right to be paid minimum wage, they would still need the hours to actually be paid any money. So if their employer has it out for them then they can be twisted. They better keep to their employer’s good side!
- Since work is on an as-needed basis, employees or workers tend to be in a more unguarded position. The possible spontaneous nature of the job makes planning ahead difficult.
- Work becomes a battlefield when you have to fight for your shifts with other individuals that want it.
I hope this helps to create more clarity around these contracts! At Linkilaw, we would be more than happy to answer any of your questions. Simply book a call with our legal team HERE, and you’ll be one step closer to making sure your business isn’t in any risk or you aren’t being cheated on by your employer.