The latest figures from
the Office for National Statistics show that over 200,000 workers in the UK are
working under zero-hours contracts, up from 150,000 in 2009. So what are these contracts and why are they
proving so popular?
Under a zero-hours contract the employer does not guarantee to provide
the worker with any work and pays the worker only for work actually carried
out. Generally, the worker is expected to be available for work if required,
often at short notice. However, under
some contracts the worker is free to accept or refuse work offered. Staff employed under such contracts are
usually ‘workers’ rather than employees and so have fewer employment rights. They do not have the right to claim unfair
dismissal or a statutory redundancy payment.
There is no immediate plan to ban the use of zero-hours contracts, but their increased use has brought them under the spot light and there is political pressure from both the government and the Labour Party to remove or at least limit their use.