In the UK, over 880,000 people are on a zero hour contract, but there seems to be some confusion over what actually constitutes a zero hour contract and whether they are actually beneficial to the employees on them.

According to the National Office of Statistics, there is no single agreed definition of what zero hour contracts are, while gov.uk says that zero hour contracts mean employers can have workers who are on call when they need them – they don’t have to give them work and the employee doesn’t have to do work when asked. Zero hour workers are entitled to statutory annual leave and the National Minimum Wage in the same way as regular workers.

There are arguments for and against this type of contract, but when used in the right way they can benefit the employee as well as the employer.

Who are they good for?

For many people, the chance to work on a zero hour contract is very attractive as it offers them the opportunity to work flexibly and absolves them of any commitment to the company. People who are usually employed on zero hour contracts are those in full-time education, those who need to work around family commitments, and young people who may only be looking for seasonal work.

For companies that have seasonal peaks and troughs, having employees on zero hour contracts can provide budgetary relief and the assurance that they have reliable workers on call when they need them most.

Why is there controversy surrounding them?

A sense of uncertainty can fall on those who are contracted as zero hour employees. With no set hours of work, employees who are responsible for paying bills and caring for their families can struggle not having a fixed amount of money coming in every month. With this comes the issue of workers accepting all the shifts offered to them to ensure they are making enough money to be able to support themselves financially. While on the face of it this is beneficial to the employer, it can have detrimental effects – employees may accept jobs they are not fit to do causing huge health and safety implications. In many cases, these employees may cut corners to outperform colleagues to ensure they are offered shifts over them.

Zero hour contracts have their pros and cons – companies choosing to implement this type of contract should consider whether it will fully benefit their business and remember they have to provide the same level of care and attention to their “casual” workers as they do their full-time employees.

Regardless of contract type, at Bluestones One we can ensure that the right fixed agreements are in place for you and your employees.  Contact the team to find out more about how we can help.