Zero hour contracts are something of a thorn in the sides of the political parties at present with both the Tories and Labour making noises about them. However it does not seem like they are going to be removed any time soon. This is following an announcement from the Business Secretary Vince Cable.
Vince Cable is ruling out a complete ban on the contract as he believes they offer employers “welcome flexibility”. What he has done though is launch a consultation on their use. He believes that they do have a place in the labour market despite there being occasions when employers abuse the rights (or lack of) of their employees who are on these contracts.
Zero hour contracts are in essence contracts which don’t promise regular work to the employees. The employer will offer shifts that are available to the employees on these contracts and then the employee will have the opportunity to either accept or reject them. This does afford the employees a level of flexibility that is not normally available to those who are on contracts which require a set number of hours a week or month. This means that certain people can benefit from these arrangements especially if they have a second job on a zero hour contract which gives them the opportunity to earn some extra money but doesn’t mean they are tied to it week in week out.
Although Vince Cable has stated that they aren’t looking to ban the contracts outright what he is hoping to happen is to prevent employers from abusing these contracts. In particular there are often clauses in them that stop them from working for anyone else at the same time but then go on to not provide any shifts. He has mentioned that he would like these exclusivity clauses banned from use.
The aim of this consultation that he has announced is that he wants employees and employers to be given more guidance and advice about the contracts. As at present there is not a clear definition of what they are or the best way for them to work. Some contracts require the employees to take the shifts which are offered to them by the employer whilst others give them the freedom to pick and choose. Often sick pay is not included and the same with holiday pay (although it should be, if they are wanting to be in line with the working time regulations).
What does this mean for you?
If you are on a zero hour contract and you feel you are being treated poorly then there may be action that may be taken. Please do not hesitate to contact us on [phonenumber] where one of our professional team will be able to discuss your situation with you. We will be able to advise you on whether we feel there is a case that can be taken forward and whether it could be done on a no win no fee basis.