Zero Hour Contract: What are your rights?

Caragh Bailey
4 min read
zero hour contract advice from employment law friend

What is a Zero Hour contract?

A zero hour contract (also known as a casual contract) is designed for jobs where the hours can’t be guaranteed. A good example of where a zero hour job is appropriate is in hospitality, where the amount of customers, and therefore the amount of staff cover needed, can be unpredictable especially for new businesses.

Your employer is not obligated to provide you with work: they don’t have to offer you any shifts at all - zero hours.

By taking a zero hour contract you agree to be on call for shifts that your employer offers you, but you choose whether you want to do them.

If you refuse shifts, your employer may be less likely to offer you more in future.

You can accept work elsewhere, if your zero hour contract says that you are not allowed to take work elsewhere you can disregard this without breaching your contract.

If you are self-employed and take work from clients on a zero hours basis, you are still self-employed and not covered by employment law for people on a zero hours contract.

What are my zero hour contract rights?

You are entitled to statutory employment rights. Depending on your contract you will be classed as either a worker or an employee. This should be specified in your employment contract and job description. If not, employment status

Statutory employment rights.
Zero Hour Worker
Zero Hour Employee
Statutory minimum wage relative to your age.
Protection from unlawful deductions to your wages
Statutory holiday pay/Paid annual leave
Rest breaks
Statutory minimum length rest breaks
To not work more than 48 hours per week (on average)
Or to waive that right if they want to.
Health and Safety at work
Your place of work must meet H&S requirements
Protection from discrimination
read more about discrimination at work
Protection for ‘whistleblowing’
(reporting unethical or illegal behaviour in work)
Equal treatment if you work part time or full time

Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental pay

Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental leave

Statutory sick pay
From the fourth day you are off sick, up to 28 weeks
Statutory notice period
(a number of weeks more work, after you’ve been told you’re being dismissed)
Protection against unfair dismissal
(after at least 2 years continuous service)
The right to request flexible working
Working hours or working from home
Time off for emergencies
For family and dependents
Statutory redundancy pay
read more about redundancy here

Some of the rights for zero hours employees only come into effect after you have been in your job for a certain length of time, this should be explained in your contract of employment

Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you are entitled to statutory holiday entitlement
If you are a zero hours worker you do not have to give a notice period when you are resigning. You can tell your employer that you quit verbally or in writing. From that moment, you are no longer employed by them.

Your employer can terminate your zero hours job without notice.

If you are a zero hours employee you must give at least one week’s notice if you have worked in your job for more than one month. Check your zero hours contract to see if you have agreed to a longer notice period, and whether you must give your notice in writing.

Write a letter to your employer telling them that you are resigning. Include today’s date so that you have written proof of when your notice period begins and ends.

As a zero hours worker you have the right to refuse any shifts, but you should work any shifts that you have already agreed to within your notice period.

Your employer must also give you notice of terminating your employment. They do not have to offer you any work but they should honour any shifts they have already offered you within the notice period.
Provided you have the necessary "continuous employment", you should have the same rights as your colleagues.

Not getting all of your zero hour contract rights?

Not all employers honour the correct rights for zero hours workers or employees, whether on purpose or not. You can get in contact with us and see how we can help.

Employment Law Specialist | Competitive Quotes | Straight Talking Legal Support

This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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Please be advised that we are a UK company and our advice applies to employment law in England and Wales, only.
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