The advantages of zero-hours contracts

While you might feel uneasy about zero-hours contracts in light of the controversy surrounding firms like Uber and Sports Direct, could a casual working arrangement offer benefits to your business and employees?

The reality is that the advantages of zero-hours contracts often outweigh the pitfalls, especially in a remote work framework.

It’s all about establishing a balance between supply, demand, and job security.

Business benefits of flexible zero-hours contracts

Business agility is a valuable target – being able to flex your capacity and bring in skilled staff when you need them means you’ll never be in the challenging position of turning down a lucrative contract due to lack of time.

If you’re a start-up, you’ll also lack a rock-solid way of knowing how busy you might get or how quickly.

This scenario is one where zero-hours contracts can be a viable solution.

Advantages include:

  • Mitigating risk – avoid staffing overheads if you’re unsure whether you’ll have a constant demand for fixed-hours team members
  • Affordability – keeping control over your budgets and avoiding paying workers when they aren’t required
  • Flexibility – zero hours workers can pick up hours when they want them, without pressure if they’re juggling other commitments

The government definition of a zero-hours contract is that there isn’t a guarantee of any particular work volume. The worker can decide whether or not to accept offered hours.

Should your business take on seasonal workers or casual employees, a zero-hours contract can bridge the middle ground between needing people on hand without the financial commitment to pay fixed salaries.

The flex appeal of zero-hours work for staff

Zero-hours contracts aren’t for everyone, and some professionals prefer either a confirmed offer of work or to remain an independent contractor.

For others, it’s an opportunity to get a foot in the door and gain valuable experience with an up-and-coming business.

But, it’s normal to consider issues around staff retention, and other challenges such as worrying whether a director can be forced out if the start-up doesn’t succeed as hoped.

If you’re thinking about introducing a zero-hours position, it’s worth consulting with applicants to assess how well the set-up might work for them:

  • Are they keen to pick up hours during busy seasons or events without a longer-term commitment
  • Do your candidates want the opportunity to work flexibly, on their own terms, picking and choosing their preferred working hours
  • Have you received applications from juniors looking to gain experience before pitching for a permanent position

In the best-case scenario, zero-hours arrangements can work to the advantage of both the business and the workers.

Say your demand increases; you’ll have a ready-made pool of employees to short-list from for a stable contract.

For zero-hours workers who aren’t interested, there is no obligation to take up an opportunity to come on board full-time, so it’s up to the individual what works best for them.

And, in the meantime, they can support your business as it grows and gain from your knowledge to continue progressing in their career, whether that’s long-term with your company or elsewhere.

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