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Are Zero Hours Employment Contracts Enforceable?

25 October 2013: Zero hours contracts have been in the news recently, with talk by the coalition government of taking steps to regulate them.


In Borrer v Cardinal Security Ltd in the EAT, reported this week, it was held that  zero hours contracts must be explicitly stated to be enforceable.


Mr Borrer worked a regular 48 hour week but his contract said nothing about hours except his working hours would be specified by his line manager. When the company put him on fewer hours, he complained that he was entitled to 48 hpw and claimed constructive dismissal, The company argued he was only on a zero hours contract.


The EAT held that Mr Borrer had been contractually entitled to work his claimed 48 hour week. The EAT asked “what was the true agreement between the parties”. On the facts they concluded that he was entitled to 48 hpw work.


If employers want to assert that a zero hours contract is in operation, they would be wise to make absolutely certain that the contract is clear on the point, even if such contracts are common in that particular sector.


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