Zero hour contracts - A fair deal?
The Office of National Statistics define a “zero hours contract” as “a contract where the employer does not guarantee to provide the worker with work and will only pay the worker for those hours which are actually worked.” These arrangements give employers
a high degree of flexibility.
With over 250,000 ‘zero-hours worker’s in the UK, the Government announced in September 2013 that it would consult on the use of zero hours contracts by the end of this year. The details of the consultation are yet to be released but it is understood that the aim will be to address the abuse of employees engaged on zero hours contracts to make sure that they are getting a “fair deal”.
The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has said “It is clear that there are abuses in the system, especially around the issue of exclusivity, which some employers are demanding from workers on these contracts.” This has caused concern that future Government policy could restrict or even prohibit the use of zero hours contracts.
However, the use of a zero-hours contracts is not currently unlawful. The key question of the consultation will be whether the use of a zero-hours contract is giving employees “a fair deal”.