UK Government backs new law that gives “zero hours” workers more say over their working hours.

Unlike traditional contracts of employment, zero-hour contracts offer no guarantee of work. An employer is not obliged to provide any minimum number of working hours to the employee in zero-hour contracts and they are  quite often referred to as “on call work”. As of 2022, it was estimated that 1.03 million people had zero-hour contracts. This leaves people in a unpredictable situation as these contracts offer no fixed income and no set hours of work.

In the past, it was thought that zero-hour contracts offered flexibility to both the employer and the worker/employee however zero-hour contracts have recently been described by Labour Markets Minister Kevin Hollinrake as employers having “one-sided flexibility” over their staff which he deemed to be unfair and unreasonable.

However, on Friday 3 February 2023, MPs backed Blackpool South MP Scott Benton’s Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill which is set to give workers and employees (including agency workers) more rights when it comes to their working patterns. The new legislation means that if a worker’s existing working pattern lacks certainty in terms of the hours they work, the times they work or if it is a fixed term contract for less than 12 months, they will be able to make a formal application to change their working pattern to make it more predictable. As a result, workers will be guaranteed when they are working, how many hours and how much income they expect to receive.

In support of the Bill, Mr Hollinrake stated that it will offer workers a more predictable working pattern so that they no longer have to put their life on hold to make themselves readily available for shifts that may never come, therefore this new Bill will undoubtedly be a welcomed change for many workers across the UK.


Written By Clodagh Harkin