From the eyes of the law

Of course there are many issues surrounding the issue of zero hour contracts but what I went to find out, was what is thought of a zero hour contract from a law perspective.

I spoke to a group of law students from Birmingham City University to see what they had to say on this matter.  I met with Leyla Buran, a human rights specialist, Ryan Brownett, an employment law specialist and Jackson Smith, a company law specialist.

All agreed that in order for a zero hour contract to be viable they,

need to meet the requirement of a mutuality of obligation.

Basically, meaning that the employer and the employee need to agree that the employer will be giving hours and the employee will be willing take these hours. This suggests an agreement of regular hours and regular income; however it is clear that this is not always the case.

Leyla was very quick to say that she felt a zero hour contract was

unfair and discriminatory for the employee.

She believed that as being part of a zero hour contract means you are not protected from anything and anyway this was not a desired position to be in, and strongly advised against agreeing to one.

However Ryan could fully understand the appeal for the employer as from their point of view it means they are ‘not legally tied down’ but for the sake of employee stability, probably wouldn’t recommend if you’re the breadwinner in the house.

Another issue that was brought up by the group of future lawyers was that of human rights. Being involved with a zero hour contract means missing out on basic job security rights such as maternity leave or sick leave, so again would not recommend.

Overall, although there may have been some dispute on technicalities here and there, it was decided among the group that from a their knowledge of contracts and employment the positives were in the employers favour and the employees tend to miss out.


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