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Five Questions About: Zero-hour contracts

Zero hours: so you get paid to do nothing?

Unfortunately not. A zero-hour contract basically means there's no guarantee of work. This kind of contract means you're only paid for the hours you work.

What else should I beware of?

Watch out for sick-pay exemption, and any obligations you have to take the hours you're offered under such contracts. Some will make you do them, some won't. And you may not have the same employment rights as you would in a traditional contract. Rather than make you redundant, an employer may just not give you any work, leaving you in limbo.

So what's the problem?

There's little financial security because of the risk of not getting enough hours to make ends meet.

Which employers use them?

Lots, including the voluntary sector, tourist attractions, pubs, fast-food restaurants, retailers, local councils, government workers, even Buckingham Palace, pictured.

What can I do if I'm on this kind of contract?

You may not have many options but to work your notice and go after a new job, unless the contract breaches UK employment law or your employer has broken the contract. For help, contact Citizens' Advice: citizensadvice.org.uk