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Read more articles in: Amanda Hyam, Blog, Employment Law

Zero-hours contracts: What do you need to know?

With Christmas right around the corner, many companies will be sourcing seasonal staff to help navigate the busiest time of the year.

Many of these new starters will be employed under a zero-hours contract. But what exactly are they, and what do employers need to know?

What is a zero-hours contract?

A zero-hours contract, also known as a casual contract, is one in which the employer does not guarantee the employee any hours of work.

Under this contract, you can offer somebody work as you see fit, and they can choose to either to accept or decline it on that occasion.

How much is someone on a zero-hours contract paid?

You must pay your employee at least the National Minimum Wage, regardless of how many hours they work.

Do employment rights stay the same?

Yes, employees on zero-hours contracts are entitled to the same statutory employment rights as their colleagues.

Employment rights will also depend on their employment status, which will either be a ’worker’ or an ‘employee’.

Any ‘worker’ on a zero-hours contract will be eligible for at least the National Minimum Wage, safety from discrimination, paid annual leave and daily breaks.

What is the difference between a worker and an employee?

In short, an employee is someone who works for you under the terms laid out in an employment contract.

On the other hand, a worker is a much wider term and includes any individual who works for you, whether under an employment contract or other type of contract.

However, a ‘worker’ doesn’t include someone who is self-employed.

What are the long-term implications?

Zero-hour contracts have become increasingly popular as businesses seek a reduction in costs and enhanced skills in an ever-demanding working world.

However, it’s still important to bear in mind how this type of employment contract can affect long-term sustainability and strength.

There are a range of positives for employers and employees alike, such as a level of flexibility and additional opportunities.

However, the positives do not come without the negatives, which include unpredictable hours and potential added pressure.

No matter what you decide when employing staff over Christmas, keeping all likely implications in mind is vital.

Need advice on legal employment matters? Contact us today.

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