Zero-Hour Contract FAQs
It is estimated that there are some 900,000 people in the UK are on zero-hours contracts; circa 9 years ago the number of people on a zero-hour contract was estimated at just 143,000. We look at the most frequently asked questions relating to this ever-popular method of employment.


A zero hour contract can be simply explained as a contract where the employer does not guarantee any hours of work at all. A worker may or may not be required to accept work that's offered.


Employers (and employees) should be aware that any exclusivity clause in any zero-hour contract is null and void.


Workers are entitled to certain limited employment rights whilst working on a zero-hours contract, including the National Minimum Wage, holiday, rest breaks, protection against unlawful discrimination and protection for whistleblowing.


Zero-hour contracts aren't all bad; their flexibility appeals to some workers and, of course, their presence in the UK supports job creation. Unemployment figures are at a historically low level, although this doesn't show the complete picture. On the other hand, workers will take a zero-hour contract because it is all the hours that they are able to get. Some would want to work more hours if offered by their employer.

The idea to give an employee the right to request a move onto fixed hours has the support of the Confederation of British Industry.

McDonald's are a prime example of those allowing those staff members on zero-hours contracts to move onto fixed hours. It is however noted that the take-up from staff members was only around 20%. It is clear that some members of staff prefer the flexibility of such an arrangement.

We will need to see what the future hold for zero-hour contracts given that a Labour government will ban the use of such contracts. What we can be certain of is that zero-hour contracts remains a hot topic and will continue to be reformed.

Solicitors regularly deal with issues arising from zero-hour contracts and advise employers regarding the drafting of such contracts and the rights which the worker or employee has under such agreement. An employer should always be aware of the fact a worker may be classed as an employee and therefore have additional rights, like the right not to be unfairly dismissed or the right to a redundancy payment.

Always remember that an Employment Tribunal will consider what actually happens in practice and not just what the contract states. 


For expert legal employment advice on zero-hour contracts, Pinney Talfourd solicitors in Essex are able to assist. We have an experienced and dedicated team of specialist employment lawyers based in offices across the county.

We have late night and Saturday appointments available and offer a free initial telephone consultation for all new employment law enquiries. You can book your free initial employment consultation using our online booking form or by calling your local office. This telephone appointment will allow you to explain the situation with an expert lawyer and discuss the best steps to minimise stress and delays.