Unlike a traditional contract of employment, a zero-hours contract offers no guarantee of work. Many employers use such contracts to cover situations where work fluctuates, and many individuals also find this to be a suitable working arrangement. However, there has been criticism of their widespread use in the UK. Although there is currently no legal definition for a zero-hours contract, employers need to ensure that written contracts contain provisions setting out the status, rights and obligations of their zero-hours staff.

This factsheet examines the business rationale for considering zero-hours contracts in the workplace, and the issues to consider when using zero-hours contracts (such as the employment status of the individual). It also examines legislative changes surrounding zero-hours contracts and puts forward good-practice recommendations for those areas where some employers need to improve their working practices.

CIPD viewpoint

What are zero-hours contracts?

Why use zero-hour contracts?

Employment status

Recent UK legislation on zero-hours contracts

What does good practice look like?

Useful contacts and further reading

This factsheet was last updated by Gerwyn Davies.

Gerwyn Davies

Gerwyn Davies: Labour Market Adviser

Gerwyn is the CIPD’s Public Policy Adviser for a wide range of labour market issues. With lead responsibility for welfare reform, migration and zero-hour contracts at the CIPD, Gerwyn has led and shaped the policy debate and achieved substantial national media coverage through various publications. These include Zero-hours contracts: myth and reality (2013) and The growth of EU labour: assessing the impact on the UK labour market (2014). 

In addition Gerwyn authors the CIPD's high profile and influential quarterly Labour Market Outlook. Gerwyn is an experienced labour market commentator, making regular appearances in the national media and on other public platforms, including several appearances before the House of Commons Work and Pensions select committee.


You may also be interested in ...

Factsheets

Contracts of employment

Introductory guidance to the contract of service, the written statement of particulars, and variations of the contractual terms

Read more
Top