Zero Hour Contract

Around 2.3% of the UK workforce has a zero hour contract, and that number is rising. Zero hour contracts are popular among employers who are looking for flexible workers. This also includes seasonal jobs, such as the summer and the Christmas season. This type of contract is also linked to low guarantee working hours, that's less than 20 hours a week. There are pros and cons to working a zero hour contract, and these contracts can be found in many large organisations. Keep reading to find out more.

The Pros for a Zero Hour Contract


  • Flexibility. If you're asked to work a shift that doesn't suit your lifestyle or other commitments, then you can refuse it.


  • Improve your CV. Any experience you can get is positive and can boost your CV for potential future jobs.


  • You can find other work. You're not obliged to commit to this contract, and you're free to look for other work.


  • You may land a permanent role. Some companies may reward a hard-working zero contract employee by offering them a full-time job.

The Cons for a Zero Hour Contract


  • No benefits. Compared to a full-time or part-time contract, a zero hour contract does not get the same benefits. These benefits include redundancy and pensions.


  • No fixed income. Working zero hours means you have no set hours; this means your pay can vary drastically week to week.


  • No work. No matter what you zero hour contract says, you're not guaranteed any working hours at all.


  • Work-Life balance. Because you're on call, you will be asked to come into work; you may turn down other social events and commitments.

Zero Hour Contract and Your Rights

It is a misconception that you have no rights at all as a zero hour employee. You're entitled to the minimum wage, holiday pay and rest breaks based on the hours that you work. Each time you go into work, there will be a legal contract in place -even if it is for one hour. Therefore you're qualified as a worker, and you have rights. However, rights such as maternity pay or statutory sick pay will depend if you earn more than £166 a week from one employer. It is advised to join a trade union to help protect you and your rights. Especially if you feel you're being discriminated against.

Is a Zero Hour Contract Right For You?

This type of contract isn't all bad, despite its reputation. It is a contract that allows you to commit to other work or study obligations. This is ideal for students or for people who want a flexible working schedule to bring up children or to look after older people. Of course, having a varied income isn't ideal, especially when it comes to budgeting. However, having work experience on your CV is helpful to find a full-time job in the future.

If you want to learn more about the different contract types in the UK, see our contract type summary. Discover jobs that suit you and your lifestyle, on StudentJob.

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