My employer has provided me with a zero hours contract & said that I am not an employee, what does this mean to my employment rights?

Employers often use zero hours contracts to try to avoid having obligations to provide work, holiday pay and other employment rights, however the law states that this may not be correct.

In a recent case that was decided by the Employment Appeal Tribunal they stated that employees who were on a zero hour contract were in fact employees and therefore qualified for employment rights.

The case (Pulse Healthcare v Carewatch Care) involved a number of carers who were employed by a contractor under a zero hour contract. The contract stated that there was no obligation to provide them with work and the employees were free to work elsewhere.

The reality of the situation was however quite different and in practice they were under an obligation to do the work when offered and had all the same obligations of an employee to their employer.

This case illustrates that the employer may ‘dress’ the relationship as one thing, i.e. zero hours, but the reality may be very different. The law is in place to provide protection of your employment rights and the employer cannot merely take these away by using a contract.

If your employer insists that you do not have rights because of your contract you should sit down with them and explain why you do not agree, and if you do not get anywhere seek further advice.

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