Zero Hours Contracts

Site updated on February 17, 2020

 Zero Hours or Casual Agreements.

You may be employed on a contract which does not guarantee you any work – often called a casual arrangement but more recently is often called “Zero Hours” –   as there is no guaranteed number of hours of work each week or month. Sometimes these are just called casual agreements. You should still be provided with a written document which sets out the nature of the relationship between you and the employer.

These agreements have been in the news due to the potential for Employers to abuse them. The Government has now regulated these types of agreement, and the agreement cannot contain what is called an exclusivity clause (see below).

What does this all mean?

  • you have an agreement or arrangement that you are on call to be asked to work when your employer needs you
  • you are not entitled to any minimum number of hours of work – unless this is agreed in writing in your casual agreement
  • you don’t have to do work when asked by your employer, it is not a compulsory contract – you are free to turn down offers of work.

Zero hour and casual workers are entitled to statutory holiday rights and the National Minimum Wage in the same way as regular workers.

Your contract cannot stop you from getting work elsewhere (that means you cannot be forced to work exclusively for one employer under your zero hours arrangements.). The law since 2016 says that you can ignore any clause in your contract if it tries to ban you from:

  • looking for work
  • accepting work from another employer
  • it is now unlawful for a casual/zero hours worker to suffer a detriment because they work for another employer.


There is no qualifying period to bring an unfair dismissal claim for this reason, and any claim made to a tribunal will depend on the tribunal finding an exclusivity clause in the employment contract.

You are still fully protected under all health and safety rules on zero hour contracts.

Strictly speaking, if the agreement has no obligation on the Employer to offer you work, and you are not under any obligation to accept any work offered; this is not an employment contract and your employment rights are limited.

However if your Employer puts you under pressure to work, or prevents or restricts you from having other forms of employment, this could in fact be seen as an employment contract.

If you have any concerns about your employment  on a zero hours or casual contract, do speak to our Advice Line.

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