Zero-hours contracts can be a flexible option for both employers and workers. For example, if the work is not constant or is 'as and when'.
If you have a zero-hours contract:
- your employer does not have to give you any minimum working hours
- you do not have to take any work offered
Types of work that might use zero-hours contracts include:
- bank work (for example, for the NHS)
- casual hours (for example, students who only work during holidays)
- care work
- delivery driving
- gig economy work (for example, delivering takeaway food or giving car rides)
- hospitality work
- warehouse work
Your rights under a zero-hours contract
By law, if you have a zero-hours contract, you have the right to:
- National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
- paid holiday
- pay for work-related travel
- pay for being on call
Depending on your contract and circumstances, you might have more rights. So it's a good idea to check your employment status matches with your contract.
Working for more than one employer
If you're on a zero-hours contract, by law, your employer must not:
- stop you working for another employer by putting an 'exclusivity clause' in your contract
- treat you unfairly if you do work for another employer
- dismiss you for it if you're legally classed as an employee
This law still applies even if your employer says you've broken your contract by working for another employer.
Under zero-hours contracts, you have the same rights as other employees to:
- rest breaks at work
- rest between working days or shifts
- weekly rest periods
Breaks in employment contracts
If you're not provided work for a full calendar week (7 consecutive days from Sunday to the following Saturday), this usually counts as a break in employment.
In some situations, it may not count as a break in employment. For example, when:
- you’re off work for up to 26 weeks with sickness or injury
- your seasonal or academic work regularly stops temporarily
- you and your employer have an agreement, such as a career break
If you’re unsure, you can ask your employer how it affects your contract.
If there is a break in your employment, your employer must pay you for:
- any holiday you've built up and not taken
- outstanding wages and notice pay (if you were employed for more than a month, or if your contract says so)
When your employment has been continuous, with no break, you might have more employment rights.
For example, depending on your contract, after your first year you might not have to build up holiday before you can take it.
The employer's responsibilities for zero-hours workers
The employer is responsible for:
- zero-hours workers' health and safety at work
- paying their wages through PAYE, including tax and National Insurance (NI) deductions
If you think your employer is not following the law
If you think you're not getting what you're entitled to, for example rest breaks or pay, you should first raise the issue with your employer.