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Zero Hours Contracts

Zero-hours, or casual contracts are a very hot topic at the moment, with recent discussion in the media about their controversies. The fact that over 1 million people, or 3.1% of the UK workforce are employed on a zero-hours contract (CIPD, 2013) suggests that employers need to know the facts to decide whether their use is right for their business.

What are they?

Zero hours contracts, or casual contracts are an agreement between workers and employers in which there is no obligation for employers to offer work and usually no obligation for workers to accept it. Zero-hours contracts can allow employers to take on staff in response to fluctuating demand for business services. This is especially favoured in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Flexibility is key to this emerging trend of employers adopting zero-hours contracts, which can provide advantages to both parties.



Concern that zero-hours contracts do not offer enough financial stability and security.

Employees on zero-hours contracts also do not have the same employment rights as those on traditional contracts, and critics are concerned that these contracts are being used to avoid employer responsibilities to employees

Zero Hours Contracts

Some zero-hours contracts currently prevent the employee/worker from working for others even when the employer has no work to offer. However, this is likely to change soon.



Engagement – there is slightly higher level of overall job satisfaction for zero-hours contract workers when compared with regular employees.

Happiness – Zero-hours workers said on average that they were 7% more satisfied with their work-life balance compared with regular employees. Zero-hours workers also felt under less pressure when compared with regular employees.


If managed well, zero-hours contracts can work well for both employers and individuals. However figures presented by CIPD in August 2013 suggest that only a third of employers who use zero-hours contracts have a policy in place outlining the process for arranging work with zero-hours workers, and also cancelling work that had been offered. 4 in 10 employers have no such provisions in place.

To request a policy on zero-hours contracts and a template zero-hours contract for your organisation, or to correct poor practice and talk over any of the issues raised above please call our office on 01506 237753 and a member of the SimpleHR team will be able to help you.

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