Zero hours contracts – the latest

Posted on: February 23rd, 2016

The transport and logistics sector can be heavily reliant on ‘casual’ or ‘zero hours’ workers. They are useful for employers whose work fluctuates as the individuals are recruited on an ad hoc basis to meet short-term staffing needs or for roles where the work is unpredictable for example drivers and warehouse staff.

A ‘zero hours’ contract is generally understood to mean a contract under which an employer is not obliged to offer, and the individual is not obliged to undertake, any work in any particular week ie zero hours may be offered or worked without there being any breach of contract. This gives employers the flexibility to respond to changing market conditions.

With standard zero hours contracts, individuals are able to work for more than one employer, picking and choosing their work as they like. Employers have sought to get around this by making zero hours contracts exclusive i.e. including clauses preventing the individual from working for anyone else. However, since 11 January 2016 these exclusive clauses are unenforceable.

As a result of the change, employers can no longer insist that their casual workers work exclusively for them, and cannot dismiss a zero hours employee or subject them to a detriment (e.g refusing to offer them work) if they have a second or third job.

Employers need to find the right balance between having enough casual workers ‘on their book’ so that they always have cover even if their usual workers are working elsewhere, and not having so many that there isn’t enough work to share between them.

Amy is part of the employment team and provides advice and training on all aspects of employment law and HR. Click here to see the training sessions coming up.