The future of zero hours contracts under review

It is believed that around one million people in the UK are currently working under zero hours contract arrangements within which the employer is not obligated to provide work, according to experts at Linder Myers.

Universities and councils have been highlighted in the press as being heavily reliant on these types of arrangements receiving criticism from the unions while business secretary Vince Cable has ordered a review.

Arrangements on this basis can provide flexibility to employers, particularly those operating in sectors which often experience fluctuations in demand and where it is beneficial to engage workers on a genuine ‘as and when required basis’.

However, many employers fall into the trap of offering these types of contracts to mask or hide a true employment relationship which involves regular hours consistently worked over an extended period of time.

The risk to businesses operating in this fashion is that if faced by a Tribunal, the true nature of the working relationship will be closely examined and exposed and they may find themselves subject to expensive claims being made against them. While the future of zero hours contracts remains to be seen, it is advisable for businesses, particularly SMEs who can ill afford any action to be taken against them, to ensure they take appropriate advice.