PwC comments on zero hour contracts

Published at 14:21 PM on 08 September 2016

Today's figures from the ONS suggest that there has been a further rise in the use of zero hours contracts within the UK workforce. Ed Stacey, head of employment law at PwC Legal, comments: 

"Whilst zero hour contracts have been the subject of negative publicity in recent months, they remain legal provided they do not include an exclusivity clause to prevent an individual accepting work with another employer. The flexible nature of these contracts mean that they are often used in situations where demand for work is irregular, or seasonal, or where there is not a constant demand for staff. They allow an individual to, for example, work around caring responsibilities, studies or child care. They can therefore, in certain instances, be beneficial to both the employer and the individual. However, they should not be used as a permanent arrangement where it is not justified, for example, where an individual works regular hours over a continuous period of time.  

"These types of contract give staff 'worker', or occasionally 'employee', rights. A worker will be entitled to annual leave, the national minimum and living wage, rest breaks, pay for work related travel and protection from discrimination. If an individual has 'employee' status they will also be entitled to additional statutory employment rights such as family friendly rights and, after a period of two years service, redundancy pay and protection from unfair dismissal.  

"A zero hours contract is legally enforceable provided the terms are clear and unambiguous and it does not provide for exclusivity. Such exclusivity clauses have been held to be unfair and unjustified. Recent legislation renders unenforceable a clause which would prevent a worker from looking for, performing or accepting work from another employer or prohibits a worker from doing so without the employer's consent. Further, in the event that an employer tries to enforce such a term, or subjects a worker to a detriment as a result, the worker also has the benefit of being protected from unfair dismissal." 




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