Zero hours contracts have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly in industries such as hospitality, retail, and healthcare. A zero hours contract is a type of employment contract where the employer does not guarantee any set number of working hours for the employee. Instead, the employee is called upon to work as and when required by the employer.
One question often asked about zero hours contracts is whether they can be verbal. In other words, can an employer and employee agree to a zero hours contract without a written agreement?
The short answer is yes, a zero hours contract can be verbal. There is no requirement for a zero hours contract to be in writing. However, as with any employment contract, it is advisable to have a written agreement to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes.
If a zero hours contract is verbal, it is important that both the employer and employee are clear on the terms of the agreement. This should include details such as the rate of pay, the minimum number of hours the employee can expect to work, and any conditions surrounding the employee’s availability.
Verbal agreements can be difficult to enforce, especially if there is a disagreement between the employer and employee about the terms of the contract. In such cases, it may be necessary to seek legal advice to determine the validity of the contract.
In addition to the potential difficulties of enforcing a verbal contract, there are also legal requirements that must be followed when employing someone on a zero hours contract. For example, employers must comply with minimum wage legislation and provide employees with payslips.
Employers must also ensure that they are not using zero hours contracts to avoid their responsibilities as an employer. In August 2021, new legislation was introduced in the UK which gives zero hours contract workers the right to request a stable contract after 26 weeks of employment. This means that employers must consider offering more stable contracts to workers who have been employed for six months or more.
In conclusion, a zero hours contract can be verbal, although it is advisable to have a written agreement to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes. Employers must also ensure that they are complying with their legal obligations towards their employees, including paying the minimum wage and providing payslips. With the new legislation in place, employers may also need to consider offering more stable contracts to workers who have been employed on a zero hours contract for six months or more.