Zero hours employment contracts - the future

What we say - Article


Zero hours employment contracts - the future

Exploitation or flexible labour resource or just simple economic reality?

Zero hours contracts are when an employee only works as and when they are needed by their employer and are only paid for the hours they work. Great flexibility for employers but no stability for the employees.

Zero hours contracts are a hot topic at the moment, receiving much coverage during the party conference season. The debate is whether they are a form of exploitation or a valuable tool for employers operating in tough economic times. The Business Secretary Vince Cable announced on 16th September that he will launch a consultation on zero-hours contracts in order to tackle any abuse by employers. Ed Miliband is expected to go further and announce proposals to ban zero hours contracts. 

Sports Direct appears to be an extreme example. It employs around 23,000 employee, of which 20,000 are part-time sales assistants who are on zero-hours contracts. It is reported that Sports Direct are denying these employees holiday, sick pay and bonuses. They are currently being sued by one of their zero hours employees in employment tribunal to test the legality of the treatment of the firm's part-time employees. It will be interesting to see the result of the Sports Direct case. If the company loses it has potentially far reaching financial consequences given the number of zero hours employees and potential back pay.

Below is a presentation on the future of Zero hours contracts recently prepared by Rebecca Thornley-Gibson, Partner, Employment team:


Rebecca Thornley-Gibson, Partner, Employment teamFor more information on your zero hours contracts and to start a conversation on how we can help you, please contact Rebecca Thornley-Gibson, Partner, Employment team.

View Rebecca's profile    email Rebecca now


Published: 11 Oct 2013

Subscribe to all articles and news: