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Exploring the pros and cons of zero-hour contracts

The world of employment is always evolving, even more so recently as remote working, flexible contracts and new employment laws begin to come into effect.

Among the various types of employment contracts available, zero-hour contracts have gained prominence, especially in sectors that require a flexible workforce.

These contracts, while offering certain benefits, also come with a set of challenges for many people.

What is a zero-hour contract?

A zero-hour contract is an employment agreement between an employer and an employee where the employer is not obligated to provide any minimum working hours, and the employee is not guaranteed any hours of work.

Essentially, workers on zero-hour contracts are called in to work as and when needed.

Advantages of zero-hour contracts

  • Flexibility for employers – Businesses that face fluctuating demand, such as those in retail, hospitality, or events, can benefit from the flexibility of having staff available at short notice without the commitment of guaranteed hours.
  • Flexibility for employees – For some, especially students, retirees, or those with childcare responsibilities, the flexibility to choose when they work is appealing. It can allow for a better work-life balance.
  • Potential for additional hours – During peak times, employees might be offered more hours than they would on a fixed contract, leading to potentially higher earnings.

Disadvantages of zero-hour contracts

  • Lack of financial stability – The primary concern for many is the unpredictability of income. This can make budgeting, securing loans, or even renting a property challenging.
  • Lack of benefits – Often, zero-hour contract workers miss out on benefits like holiday pay, sick pay, and pensions.
  • Short notice periods – Employees can sometimes be called in at very short notice, which can be disruptive.
  • Potential for exploitation – There’s a risk that some employers might take advantage of the flexibility, leaving workers in a vulnerable position.

Zero-hour contracts can be a complex topic for employers and employees, so it is important to get in touch if you have an issue or need advice.

Contact our employment team today.

Mander Hadley

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