Zero hour contract notice period

09 July 2019

Zero hour contracts have become widespread in recent years. The Office for National Statistics has highlighted there are now around 1.8 million workers on this arrangement. Some businesses favour them as they can provide greater flexibility with workers. If there isn’t a steady flow of work available, for example, then it saves on having to hire full or part-time staff. For workers, notably students and parents, it can be appealing as they can pick and choose work as it becomes available. But what do you need to know for zero hour contract notice periods?

Ending a zero hour contract

There are certain complications to keep in mind. First off, all workers on zero hour contracts have statutory employment rights. On the government’s Guidance for Employers, it explains: “A person will benefit from the employment rights associated with their employment status and individuals on a zero hours contract will either have the employment status of a ’worker’ or an ‘employee’.” Workers benefit from at least National Minimum Wage, paid time off, scheduled breaks, and discrimination protection. But when it comes to notice periods, there’s a difference—there aren’t statutory rights with a zero hour contract notice. What does this mean for your business? It’s best practice to establish a notice period policy in your contracts.

Zero hour contract leaving notice

When handing over a notice, supply your worker with a leaving date and follow your procedures from there. During this time, you don’t have to offer any further work. But, as an employer, it’s wise to maintain a strong working relationship with your staff. After all, they may decide to work for you in the future. Your zero hour contract notice policy should reflect this, ensuring the process runs smoothly and doesn’t create acrimony. You should be careful of other approaches. Some employers decide not to hand a worker their notice. Instead, they stop providing them with work. The problem with this approach is it could lead to discrimination claims, so follow your company procedure to ensure a rift doesn’t develop.

Worker’s notice period

How much notice do you need to give an employer on a zero hour contract? It’s a common question amongst workers, many of whom could be experiencing this form of employment for the first time and be unaware of the correct procedure. With a flexible schedule and the chance to pick and choose work as they please, it can lead to certain issues. In theory, they could leave your business without warning. They could also leave without handing in their notice—the worker could turn down anything you offer them. This is one of the drawbacks of zero hour contracts and something to keep in mind before committing your business to them. In most cases, do remember workers want a favourable reference from their employer, so most will want to keep working for you until the end of their contract.

In summary

As an employer, there are key points to remember with a zero hour contract notice period. These are:

  1. Don’t rely on your worker to be available when they hand in their notice.
  2. Your workers might not provide you with notice.
  3. Establish your notice period policies in your zero hour contracts.
  4. Follow your procedures when it’s time to hand over a worker’s notice.

Keep these in mind if you’re considering taking on zero hour contract workers. Drafting in ad hoc workers as and when you need them can help to clear projects or seize on new opportunities. To use workers to their full potential, be sure to take the right legal approach. This will mean, when the time comes to ending a contract, you follow the right procedure while treating your worker with respect.

Want to know more?

For more industry-leading information on zero hour contract notice periods, get in touch with us on 0800 028 2420. Alternatively, you can request a callback.

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