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Be in the know about zero hours contracts

An employment expert has given their advice on the controversial ‘zero hours’ contract trend after recent figures showed the number of workers involved is increasing.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed almost 700,000 people in the UK are now employed under a zero hour contract.

Louise Smith, solicitor in the Employment team at Lancashire law firm Napthens, says as figures rise, there are implications for employers who must ensure the terms of employment are transparent to avoid complications.

Zero hours contracts mean that employees have no fixed working pattern, as it’s not compulsory for employers to provide minimum hours, nor is the employee under obligation to accept work offered.

Louise said: “A person working under a zero hours contract is entitled to some of the same rights as those working under ‘standard’ contracts of employment, such as minimum wage and paid annual leave.

“But there are other areas in which terms of employment differ, such as exclusivity clauses which prevent an employee from working for another employer, so it’s important to be fully aware of the ins and outs.

“There are benefits for employers, as the flexibility allows businesses to respond to changes in demand with staffing levels, as well as retaining the skills and experience of staff who might want to opt for partial retirement.

“It’s important to seek legal guidance before proceeding, as contracts should always be drawn up in a way which ensures both parties are fully aware of their rights and requirements from the very beginning of the agreement, so there is no room for confusion further down the line.”

Employment Solicitor Preston - Louise Smith