There has been a lot of press lately about zero hours contracts and worker status. In fact, this seems to have been rumbling on forever so we thought you might find it useful to understand more about zero hours contracts and how they can benefit both the employer and employee.
Zero hours Contracts – demonised?
Zero hours contracts have been rather demonised in the press over the last couple of years, to the extent where some of our clients are worried about asking us to create them. At Lighter HR, we have used zero hours contracts with our clients to good effect, where both the employer and employee wanted extra flexibility in the working relationship. We have found them particularly useful for clients with very new businesses who can’t understand their resource requirements just yet. They are also useful to accommodate workers who require genuine flexibility in their role because of unpredictable caring commitments, or when they want to wind down their work commitments but maintain a professional role to some extent. These kinds of workers would sometimes be forced out of the workplace by more structured contracts.
However, we have never recommended the use of exclusivity in our zero hours contracts (even before it was outlawed!) as this is just plain unfair on the worker. We always aim to explore other contractual and resourcing options and recommend zero hours contracts as a solution to bridge a particular set of resourcing circumstances for the client or worker, not a long-term solution.
Those on a zero hours contract would often be classed as a ‘Worker’, but it’s important to remember that Workers still have rights. They have rights to the National Minimum Wage, paid annual holiday which accrues in line with the days/hours they work, rest breaks and protection from discrimination.
The accrual of holidays, in particular, must be carefully managed if you have workers on a zero hours contract. Otherwise, employers can inadvertently allow a worker to accrue a great deal of holiday during the year. This is because as workers simply do not attend work if they have other commitments, they can forget to take their holiday. This can lead to an employer having to make an expensive holiday accrual payment should the worker decide to leave, or being obliged to allow workers a great deal of time off at the end of the holiday year which might not be in line with business needs.
Like any tool, used properly, zero hours contracts can be very useful, efficient and motivational. Used improperly, they can be unhelpful and demotivating…
If you would like to talk about resourcing for your employees, whether that is for the use of zero hours contracts or just for help with planning your resourcing more efficiently for the future, then please give us a call on 0203 319 1649.