Zero Hours Contract
Zero hour contract which is also known as zero contract hours is a casual working contract that does not guarantee workers any work and only pays for the work carried out. With this type of contract, the worker is expected to avail themselves for work if and when they are called upon by the employer.
This type of employment contract is used in the UK and contains provisions that create an ‘on-call’ arrangement between the employee and employer. Employers in this case assert they don’t have any obligation to provide work for employees while the employees agree to be available when and as required. Consequently, this means there is no particular times of work or hours specified. The employee should be on call and they will receive compensation for the hours they work only.
Zero hours contract can be beneficial especially for students and retirees interested in getting occasional earnings and are entirely flexible about when they can work. However, this is not applicable to people in the general working environment/population and this includes those with the responsibilities of supporting families as well as those with mortgages as they run the risk of unpredictable earnings and working hours.
This type of contract is often used by management as a tool to either reprimand or reward employees. Across the globe, part-time workers and itinerant day laborers are employed under zero hour contract terms. This is applicable in many countries though the term ‘zero hour contract’ is British English for employees on call with no set minimum hours and no definite schedule and who work on contracts and still, manage to meet the requirements of Employment Rights Act 1996 a statute of the UK.
Under the National Minimum Wage Act of 1998 in the UK, workers operating under contract on stand-by call time must be paid national minimum wages for the hours they work. Prior to the 1998 Working Time Regulations and the 1999 National Minimum Wage Regulations, flexibility provided by zero hour contracts is often known as ‘clock-off’ workers during the quiet periods while retaining them onsite in order to return them to paid work as and when the need arises.
The National Minimum Wage Regulations now require employers to pay national minimum wages for the workers needed at the workplace though there is no work to be carried out. Zero hours contract has received numerous criticisms for subjecting workers to exploitation as they can be denied work at any given time and for any reason.
For instance, refusal to work when called upon can result to prolonged periods of no work. Also, due to the uncertainty of these contracts, it becomes difficult for workers with children to arrange for childcare.
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