A to Z of Employment - Entries for Z
The expression "zero hours (or nil hours) contract" is not legally defined. It is a day to day name for a contract under which the employer does not guarantee to provide work and pays only for work actually done.
Until 1994, employees working under zero-hours contracts could very rarely (if ever) build up a sufficient period of continuous employment to qualify for statutory rights which require a minimum period of employment, such as the right to claim unfair dismissal.
However, since 1994/95 the requirement that employees have to work a minimum number of hours per week to build up a period of continuity has been abolished. As a result, like other Part-time workers, those working under zero hours contracts can now sometimes qualify for statutory employment rights which require a minimum period of service.