The Government has released guidance on Zero Hours contracts for employers.

The Government has released guidance on Zero Hours contracts for employers. The guidance can be found here

In addition to explaining what zero hour contract are the Government ‘helpfully, sets out when it considers the use of zero hours contract would be ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’.

Appropriate uses are listed as use by new businesses, for seasonal work, to deal with unexpected sickness, for special events, and hiring ad hoc staff to test a service.

Inappropriate uses basically include where the hours to be worked have a degree of regularity over a lengthy period.

Helpfully, alternatives are suggested for employers to consider in circumstances where the use zero hours contracts would be inappropriate. These are: -

  • offering overtime to permanent staff to ensure 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 to adapt to a change in the business needs
  • offering annualised hours contracts if peaks in demand are known across a year
  • using agency staff can be a quicker and easier way to hire someone if staff are needed temporarily or at short notice

The Guidance also suggests that when offering a zero hours contract, employers should consider including information such as: -

  • whether the individual is an employee or worker and what employment rights they are entitled to
  • if the individual is an employee, how statutory employment entitlements will be accrued where appropriate, for example, redundancy pay
  • the process by which work will be offered and assurance that they are not obliged to accept work on every occasion if they so wish
  • how the individual’s contract will be brought to an end, for example, at the end of each work task or with notice given by either party

Finally, there is a reminder that the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act prohibits the use of exclusivity clauses or terms in any zero hours contract. This means an employer cannot stop an individual from looking for work or accepting work from another employer and a clause in a zero hours contract that attempts to do so is unenforceable.