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Consultation - Zero hours employment contracts

Response from Citizens Advice Scotland

Clients facing problems with zero hours employment contracts have been increasingly reported by CAB. Based on their evidence, CAS responded to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills' consultation on the issue.


  • The misuse of zero hours contracts is becoming a major problem, which should be addressed to prevent exploitation and hardship.

  • CAS recommends that the Government legislates to ban the use of exclusivity clauses in contracts where no work is guaranteed, except in circumstances where a limited restriction can be justified.

  • CAS would welcome additional information, advice and guidance for employers and employees on employment contracts and rights, particularly for those employed on a zero hours basis, but believes that many of the difficulties caused by misuse of zero hours contracts are not caused by a lack of information or guidance and that this will not solve all the problems.

  • CAS recommends that guidance to individuals, as well as Jobcentre Plus staff, is published clarifying that individuals who leave zero hours contracts due to the lack of work available; or who decline offers of zero hours work for the same reason should not be sanctioned.

  • CAS feels that model clauses for zero hours contracts could be useful to employers and recommends they are produced. However, it should be recognised that many of the situations in which zero hours contracts are misused are not caused by the terms of the written contract, but by particular practices.

  • CAS recommends the Government considers options to strengthen employment law to protect workers from the misuse of zero hours contracts including:

  • Legislate to ensure that where mutuality of obligation for the employee to undertake work provided by the employer is present, an individual is classed as an employee rather than a worker even if their contract states zero hours

  • Give workers on a zero hours contract a statutory ‘right to request’ a contract that guarantees hours, without fear of dismissal
  • Extend protection from unfair dismissal to workers as well as employees

  • Extend rights to parental leave and pay to workers as well as employees


  • CAS believes that a ‘Fair Employment Commission’ needs to be established to ensure that employment rights are protected and that rogue employers are prevented from exploiting workers and gaining unfair advantages over good employers.

  • CAS would recommend that employers are required to inform prospective candidates that the vacancy is on a zero hours basis, for instance by publishing it in the job advertisement, or by informing them at interview.
Rob Gowans
Publication date
March 2014
Publication type
Number of pages