Zero hours and casual contracts

Editor's message: Under a "zero hours" contract, an individual is not contracted to work a set number of hours, and is paid only for the hours that they actually work. The term is often used interchangeably with "casual" workers, who generally are also not guaranteed a fixed number of hours of work. In practice, there may be little to distinguish between these types of working arrangements.

Employers commonly use zero hours or casual contracts where the work is seasonal or where the requirement is unpredictable, as this gives the employer flexibility.

On 18 September 2023, the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 received Royal Assent. The Act gives workers, including zero hours and casual workers, the right to request a predictable working pattern. The provisions of the Act are subject to secondary legislation (regulations) being introduced and brought into force. The Government has said that it expects the measures to come into force approximately one year after Royal Assent, to give employers time to prepare for the changes.

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HR and legal information and guidance relating to zero hours and casual contracts.