BIS publishes guidance for employers on zero hours contracts

man-439040_1280 (1)We have previously reported on zero hours contracts (Zero hours contracts – closing the loopholes and Update on zero hours contracts: exclusivity clauses now in force).

A zero hours contract is a contract under which a worker undertakes to do or perform work or services as and when the employer requires, but there is no obligation on the employer to make work or services available to the worker. This means that workers on zero hours contracts have no certainty about the hours of work they will get, and therefore have no certainty as to their income from one week or month to the next.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has finally published guidance for employers on zero hours contracts on its website.

The guide explains what zero hours contracts are; what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate use of zero hours contracts; and gives guidance on alternatives to zero hours contracts; and best practice.
According the guidance, the use of zero hours contracts may be appropriate, for example, for new businesses; where work is seasonal; to cover a period of unexpected staff sickness; or to test a new service a business is thinking of providing. The guidance states that zero hours contracts are rarely appropriate to run the core business, and that they may not be appropriate where the individual concerned will work regular hours over a continuous period of time.

Suggested alternatives to zero hours contracts include offering overtime to permanent staff, recruiting a part time employee, offering annualised hours contracts or using agency staff.

The guidance also sets out what constitutes best practice for employers where zero hours contracts are used including having a clearly drafted contract which sets out the individual’s rights; planning ahead so that employers can give as much notice as possible when offering work; and avoiding, if at all possible, cancelling work at short notice or even when the individual turns up at work.

If you need advice on any aspect of zero hours contracts contact Helen Kay on or .

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