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Zero hours contracts to be more 'Direct'

Napthens - November 3rd 2014

The facts

Sports Direct are updating more than 20,000 zero hour contracts following settling a case brought by a former employee. It is estimated that Sports Direct employ nearly 90% of their work force via zero hour contracts.

Following the settlement the company have agreed to a number of legally binding changes to its recruitment policy for zero hours workers. They will now re-write all job adverts and employment contracts to expressly state that causal workers will not be guaranteed work. The company will also expressly communicate their workers' entitlement to both holiday and sick pay.

In the case a former employee claimed that she had been refused both paid holiday and sick pay, she further claimed that the uncertainty of her contractual terms caused her stress and anxiety.  A settlement was reached, however, Sports Direct made no admission of liability. Further claims are being brought by approximately 300 workers who claim they were unfairly excluded from a multi-million pound bonus scheme which was only handed to permanent employees. This claim is expected to be filed early next year.

Alongside this the government, who stated there are currently 250,000 zero hour contracts in the UK,  are currently reviewing the use of exclusivity clauses in the contracts, the outcome of this review is awaited.

What does this mean for employers?

Zero hour contracts can be advantageous for employers, offering a great degree of flexibility, their use can be especially essential during seasonal periods. However, employers are encouraged to be clear and transparent when communicating with employees about their contractual entitlements. It is essential that employers produce clear contracts and policies detailing the employee’s rights and ensure that these are accessible to staff.