Casual employment contract (zero hours contract)

This is a comprehensive employment contract for casual workers. Sometimes known as a casual work contract or a zero hours contract, it places no obligation on the employer to provide work, and pay and benefits are pro rated in line with hours worked. This document covers all legal requirements for information to be given to an employee and provides strong protection for the employer organisation.
Suitable for use in: England & Wales and Scotland
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Whether you run a large company or a small business, from time to time you may need to hire staff on an ad hoc basis without any guarantee of continuous employment or even of a certain number of hours.

The document that regulates such an arrangement is known as a zero hours contract or a casual employment contract or a 0 hour contract.

What is a zero hours contract?

The main difference between a casual employment agreement and a standard employment contract is that this document gives no obligation to the employer to provide work (which is where the term 'zero hours' comes from) nor any obligation on the worker to accept all or any of the work you offer.

The effect is that if you have no work for someone you hire on a zero hours basis, then you aren't obliged to pay them for hours that they don't work.

Law relating this agreement and casual employment

Both workers and employees can be hired using zero hours contracts. Which they are depends largely on their employment status and not on the type of contract.

Employment status depends on the circumstances in which they work. Considerations would include the frequency of hours worked and the type of work performed.

The basic rights of all workers and employees are the same regardless of their employment status or whether they work full-time or part-time.

These rights include annual leave, being paid the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage and being paid for work-related travel. Nor can a default retirement age be specified in the contract.

Workers don't have some rights that employees have. For example, to claim for unfair dismissal, parental pay and leave, flexible working or statutory minimum notice.

Our zero hours contract aims to show the employers intention to enter into a 'worker' relationship.

However, over time a worker may become an employee, which enhances his or her rights. Whether that happens is often subjective and requires any dispute over status to be taken to an Employment Tribunal to decide.

An employer can end the agreement immediately if the worker has committed a serious breach of the terms of the contract, or has committed gross misconduct. The employer must do so in writing.

A worker can terminate a zero hours contract by giving notice in writing to the employer that they no longer wish to be a casual worker.

When to use a zero hours employment contract

This document is suitable:

  • for any new employee working on 0 hours or casual basis

  • to replace existing contracts, which may be out of date

  • for UK organisations of any type: companies, charities, trusts, partnerships, governmental organisations and others

  • for temporary work where demand fluctuates, for unexpected or last-minute work, or for on-call or bank work

If you are considering whether to hire a freelancer, a zero hours contract may be more attractive to a worker. Because it gives more rights and legal protection than a contract for services, it can help you recruit workers with whom you want a longer-term yet still flexible relationship.

Why use this agreement?

This template provides a superb, clear framework for fair and full protection of the employer and compliance with organisational requirements.

It covers all legal requirements for information to be given to a worker, and provides for variable hours and pro-rata holidays and sickness benefits.

Use of plain English makes editing easy and allows it to be understood by all parties.

Details such as duties and training provision can be added easily if required, either within the existing text, or by reference to a job description. Matters such as performance reviews and grievance procedures are also covered.

Our disciplinary procedures follow procedures recommended by ACAS.

All our contracts of employment are strong on protection of the employer's secrets and confidential information.


  • Up-to-date and complies with current law
  • The employer has no obligation to provide work
  • Includes all standard terms for a principal statement
  • Follows current best practice recommendations by ACAS and other bodies
  • Strong on protection of employer's confidential information
  • Can be used for any job role
  • Structured so as to minimise the administrative burden of legal compliance

Contents of this zero hours contract template

This agreement includes the following paragraphs:

  • No obligation to provide work
  • Start and continuity
  • Trial period (also called a probation period)
  • Job title and description
  • Place of work
  • Work outside the UK
  • Hours of work
  • Salary
  • Expenses
  • Leave for holidays and other reasons
  • Sickness and sick pay
  • Pension
  • Other business and employment
  • No competition
  • Confidentiality
  • Intellectual property
  • Collective agreements
  • Staff handbook and company policies
  • Bribery and other corrupt behaviour
  • Disciplinary and grievance procedures: in line with ACAS recommendations
  • Termination
  • Procedure after termination
  • Summary termination
  • Reconstruction or amalgamation
  • Data protection
  • Severance and invalidity

Practicalities this contract covers

A contract, written or verbal is made as soon as the employee accepts a job offer. So as to minimise future misunderstandings, we recommend providing a written contract with the offer letter, so that the employee can return an acceptance letter with a signed copy of the contract.

By law, all employees must be given a “written statement of employment particulars” no later than the day of starting work. This is a document that sets out the terms of employment that the employer must disclose, known as a “principal statement”. This zero hours contract template includes all the necessary information to act as a principal statement so that you don’t need to provide this information separately in a letter or another document.

Other employment policies and procedures not within the principal statement (such as data protection) could be included in the document. However, especially when you have many casual workers, changing each employee’s contract of employment (and ensuring consistency between employees) every time a new law changes can be time consuming and difficult. It is usual, therefore, to place all procedures and policies common to all staff in an employee handbook and refer to the handbook in the employment contract. This is the approach Net Lawman recommends.


This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current English law.

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