The Government published Guidance on the use of Zero Hours Contracts on 15th October, which you can see here.

The Guidance gives examples of when using a zero-hour contract would be appropriate or inappropriate and suggest alternatives to these types of contracts that employers could use.

The Government says that appropriate use of zero hours contracts would be in the following circumstances:

  • where work demands are irregular or there is not a constant demand for staff
  • where the individual worker needs flexibility because of other commitments
  • where work is driven by external factors outside of the employer’s control, e.g. in hospitality, leisure and catering sectors when special events are booked
  • when a business is new and needs to build up a customer base and manage fluctuating and unpredictable demands, or when a business is testing a new service
  • where work is seasonal or has peaks in demand
  • to cover unexpected staff sickness.

And using zero-hours contracts would be inappropriate in the following circumstances:

  • where a permanent arrangement is justifiable or the individual will need to work regular hours over a continuous period of time
  • where an Employer is trying to avoid their responsibilities/obligations under employment law – i.e. staff must have employment rights
  • where they are used to run the core business when there is a regular service or product that has a predictable timetable or output.

The Government suggests that alternatives to Zero-Hours contracts are:

  • offering overtime to existing permanent staff, so experienced staff deal with temporary fluctuations in demand
  • recruiting a part-time employee or someone on a fixed term contract if regular hours need to be worked
  • offering annualised hours contracts if peaks in demand are known across the year
  • using agency staff

The Guidance goes on to talk about planning ahead and giving as much notice as possible when offering work; and that cancelling work at late notice should be avoided; as well as if the individual can expect any compensation for work cancelled at the last moment. Also, now that exclusivity clauses have been banned in zero-hours contracts, that Employers must allow the individual to do work elsewhere.

If you need help understanding whether zero-hours contracts are suitable for your business, or would like a zero-hours contract drafted for you, then please get in touch! Our charge for a personalised and compliant zero-hours contract is £90 plus VAT.