A Quick Employers Guide to Zero Hours Contracts: Your Contractual Obligations
BlogHR Advice Posted: Friday 20th November 2015 by
Zero hours contracts can be confusing for employers and employees alike, especially as there is no obligation on either side to offer work, or to accept it. It is worth remembering that zero-hours workers have a lot of the same employment rights as a regular employee. In this post, we’ll bust a few of the more common myths surrounding these contracts.
Zero Hours Contracts and Exclusivity Agreements
In May 2015, new regulations were introduced to prevent employers from enforcing rights to exclusivity on any employee working on the basis of a zero-hours contract. This means that employers should not restrict their zero-hours workforce from obtaining paid work with other employers.
This is because the employer does not have to guarantee any hours of work to the employee and therefore, in slower periods, the employee should be free to source paid work elsewhere in order to boost their income.
Status of Employment
Zero-hours contracts, sometimes referred to as ‘casual contracts’ can be beneficial to employers in industries such as domiciliary care, hospitality and tourism, where the need for staff often fluctuates in line with seasonal demand.
As an employer you have no obligation to guarantee a certain number of working hours to the staff you employ on a zero-hours contract, but you will still need to treat them in the same manner as a regular employee, although they may not have all of the same rights as a full time employee.
Zero-hours workers are entitled to the standard employment benefits of statutory annual leave, the national minimum wage, SSP, rest breaks, protection against whistleblowing and discrimination, as well as compensation for work-related travel, and pay for the number of hours actually worked. However, they are not normally entitled to additional employment benefits such as maternity leave, or the right to request flexible working hours.
That being said, employers should be aware that there may be some crossover between a regular ‘employee’ and a zero-hours ‘worker’, and should a claim reach a tribunal hearing, it will be up to the tribunal panel to make the distinction regarding the actual nature of the contractual relationship.
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