The 'Zero-Hours Contract': Regulating Casual Work, or Legitimating Precarity?
22 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2015 Last revised: 5 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 1, 2015
Zero-Hours Contracts have become one of the most high-profile employment law issues of recent years. In this article, we analyse the legal and empirical evidence of work under Zero-Hours arrangements and suggest that whilst a legal engagement with Zero-Hours Contracts as an unresolved labour market problem is long overdue, the current discourse surrounding these work arrangements is fundamentally flawed: there is no such thing as the Zero-Hours Contract as a singular category; the label serves as no more than a convenient shorthand for masking the explosive growth of precarious work for a highly fragmented workforce. Ongoing attempts at regulating Zero-Hours Contracts thus constitute a significant shift towards the normalisation of all but the most extreme forms of abusive employment arrangements, leaving a rapidly increasing number of workers without recourse to employment protective norms. In concluding, we indicate ways towards a more coherent approach to the de-normalisation and progressive regulation of this large and growing set of casual work arrangements.
Keywords: Zero-Hours Contract, Precarious Work, Contracts Without Guaranteed Hours, Employment Law, Social Security, Mutuality of Obligation, Labour Force Survey, Small Business Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014-15
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