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Zero Hour Employment Contracts

Published 17 Mar 2015

There has been a lot of media coverage recently to do with the Zero Hours Contract concept in New Zealand.

Zero hour contracts are used in the UK with approximately 2.3% of the workforce being employed under them.

They generally engage the employee as a full time staff member but with no guarantee of hours, and in some case require the employee to accept the shift hours as and when offered.

These agreements are controversial because they can be considered exploitative of employees but offers employers increased protection in a struggling economy or uncertain business outlooks.

The introduction of this practice in the NZ market has been met with fierce opposition from Unions and now the Government also.

The hospitality industry readily adopted the zero hours concept but has since backtracked following pressure from employees and unions alike.

The latest indication from the Government is that some of the most punitive aspects of zero-hour contracts will be banned such as Restraint of trade clauses stopping someone working for a competing business if an employer did not provide the desired hours of work, and cancellation of shifts at short or no notice.

The acceptable alternative here in NZ is the Casual Employment Agreement. This agreement has long been in place and approved all round to achieve a fair employment engagement for both the employee and employer where there is no ongoing expectation for work from either party.

Casual Employment Agreements are available to members in the Employers Toolbox online, or non-members can purchase them individually if required: