Saturday August 17, 2019
For the road ahead

We Need an Outright Ban on Zero Hour Contracts


We know that unions can make a real difference. Last year unions, including URTU, won many new working rights and better pay and conditions for workers across the UK.

But we know we need to do more to win a better deal for workers and we want to start by stamping out unfair zero hour contracts.

That is why URTU has used this year's HeartUnions week to launch our ‘Stamp Out Zero Hour Contracts during 2019' campaign.

HeartUnions week, which started today, is all about building a stronger union movement. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the good work unions do in workplaces across the country and show how joining a trade union can help you and your workmates. 

The Campaign 

A zero hour contract is one that gives you no guaranteed minimum number of hours each week.

So they make your work unpredictable. One week you could be doing 30 hours, the next just three. Everything is at the whim of your employer. How do you budget for your mortgage or rent, or arrange childcare?

That's why URTU is fighting to stamp out these contracts.

Too many workers are being denied job security and can miss out on sick pay and holiday. Insecure work is out of control.

Every worker should have the right to a contract that guarantees the hours they work and the conditions they need for a decent working life.

Too often zero hour contracts are being used to exploit workers. Hours are never guaranteed, making financial planning impossible and anxiety inevitable. If something goes wrong, there is no safety net.

Over half of zero hour contract workers have had a shift cancelled at less than a day's notice. 


Zero hour contracts are unfair and the UK should follow the recent example set by Ireland. In December 2018, a new Employment Bill banning zero hour contracts was passed by Ireland's legislature, the Oireachtas. The new legislation bans ‘if-and-when' contracts except in cases of genuine casual employment or in emergency situations. 

The Irish Employment Bill provisions:

  • Employers must give employees basic terms of employment within five days.
  • Prohibits zero hour contracts except in situations of genuine casual employment and where they are essential to allow employers to provide cover in emergency situations or to cover short-term absence.
  • A new minimum payment for employees called into work but sent home again without work.
  • Banded Hours provisions: a new right for employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours they habitually work whereby they will be entitled to be placed in a band of hours that better reflects the hours they have worked over a 12 month reference period.
  • Anti-penalisation provisions: The Bill provides strong anti-penalisation provisions for employees who invoke their rights under this legislation.

Get involved

You can pledge to stamp out zero hour contracts during 2019 by: 

There's strength in numbers. So why not see if your friends and colleagues at work want to join URTU and we can all pledge together to ban zero hour contracts.

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