House of Commons Library

Zero-hours contracts

Published Tuesday, October 24, 2017

This note discusses zero-hours contracts; a type of contract used by employers whereby workers agree to be potentially available for work although have no guaranteed hours.

Jump to full report >>

This note discusses zero-hours contracts: a type of contract used by employers whereby workers have no guaranteed hours and agree to be potentially available for work.  They are used increasingly by companies seeking labour flexibility and by workers seeking flexibility around their other commitments. 

Opinion on zero-hours contracts has been mixed.  Employee organisations tend to argue that the contracts result in financial insecurity for workers who lack key employment rights; employer organisations stress their utility when seeking to meet fluctuating demand and argue that they play a vital role in keeping people in employment.

Prior to the 2015 General Election, the Coalition Government and the Opposition proposed measures to address concerns about the use of zero-hours contracts.  Notably, section 153 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and supporting regulations seek to prevent the use of “exclusivity clauses” in zero-hours contracts (i.e. prohibit a contractual requirement for a worker to work exclusively for one employer irrespective of the hours offered).

Commons Briefing papers SN06553

Authors: Douglas Pyper; Jennifer Brown

Topic: Employment

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.