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Zero Hours Myth Busting

FACT: Zero hours workers are entitled to annual leave

Any worker or employee starts to accrue their annual leave from the moment they begin working. This includes anyone working on a 'zero hours' contract.

If the 'zero hours' contract means that employment is continuous (see Zero hours contracts), then a worker should arrange when they take the annual leave with their employer.

If the zero hours contract means that the employment will be broken on occasion (see Zero hours contracts), then a worker should receive a payment for any accrued but untaken annual leave.

FACT: Zero hours workers are not obliged to accept work

If the zero hours contract is a genuinely casual arrangement, the worker is not obliged to accept any of the hours offered.

There is a risk that a worker who persistently refuses work when an employer offers it may ultimately influence the employer to terminate the arrangement. However, it is not good practice for an employer to try and force the worker to work, as this may call into question whether or not this is a genuinely casual arrangement, and it is also unlikely to help with staff morale and productivity.

FACT: Zero hours workers have the same statutory rights around travelling time or waiting between jobs as other workers

There are specific rules concerned with travelling time and the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage, which generally mean that a worker (with the exceptions of a workers commute) should be paid at least the National Minimum Wage when they are travelling as a requirement of their job. For example when a care worker is travelling between customers for the same employer. This right is the same for those on 'zero hours' contracts.

Equally, it is generally the case that a worker who is required to be 'on-call' and remain on the employer's premises should be receiving at least the National Minimum Wage on average for doing so. Again, there is no special different rule for zero-hours contracts, the right is the same.

However an employer needs to consider any contractual enhancement to these basic rights. For example, permanent workers may have additional pay or conditions attached so the employer needs to ensure that they do not inadvertently discriminate against workers with specific protected characteristics (like age and sex).

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