Zero Hours Contracts

According to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS,, a zero-hours contract is a type of contract between an employer and a worker where:

  • your employer does not have to give you any minimum working hours; and
  • you do not have to take any work offered.

Workers on zero hours contracts can sometimes find that existing legal protections are not being understood or enforced and perhaps just disregarded by some employers.

Some of our other clients, like Nadia*, have reported that employers have asked them to change their contract to one which was less secure with fewer rights


Nadia was working as a head chef on a permanent contract of 40 hours a week. She had time off sick ten weeks into her pregnancy; her doctor instructed she should not work in a hot environment such as a kitchen. Her employer only offered her alternative work as a waitress on a zero hours contract.

Nadia was unsure of her rights. She had not been employed for two full years and knew this might affect her situation.

Our adviser:

  • explained she should have been protected from having her contract or hours changed against her will just because she was pregnant
  • advised if her hours were reduced this would have an impact on her eligibility for Statutory Maternity Pay’
  • helped write a letter to her manager asking him to reconsider her situation, pointing out that if suitable work could not be provided on the same basis as before, she was entitled to stop work on full pay.


*Names and circumstances have been changed to maintain confidentiality

For free, independent, confidential advice on a wide range of topics call 0344 848 7969, visit our office at Bridge Street, Godalming Mon to Fri: 10am-4pm or visit


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