Following recent legal action brought by a former zero-hours
employee, Sports Direct have agreed to be more transparent with the types of
contracts they offer. The claimant left her employment with the retailer in
July 2013 after experiencing panic attacks, which she attributed to the
continuous lack of financial security under the terms of her contract.
It was argued by the Claimant that “zero-hour workers are
not second-class workers…They have the right to be treated fairly and with
respect. They have the right to take holidays and to be paid when they take
them. They have the right to statutory sick pay”.
As a result of this action Sports Direct has agreed to
re-draft their job adverts to ensure total transparency for future employees,
update its employment documents to clearly detail any entitlement to sick pay
and holiday pay and distribute copies of the new policies around all their UK
This case serves to warn employers of the risks associated
with the use of zero-hour contracts. Whilst these types of contracts can be
useful for companies which require a flexible workforce, employers should be
mindful not to fall foul of their legal obligations.
The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill which was
published on 25 June 2014, and expected to become law in early 2015, will
provide the first formal guidance regarding zero-hour contracts. Importantly,
it is expected to provide that exclusivity clauses which restrict zero-hour
contract workers from working for other organisations will be unenforceable. In
light of this new legislation, it is worth employers reviewing both the terms
and practical implementation of their zero-hours contracts to safeguard against
any potential claims.