Zero hour

ZERO-HOURS CONTRACTS have been in the news a lot of late. The NUJ is investigating whether any members are on - or know of employers in the industry who are using - zero-hours contracts.

Freelances occasionally find themselves working on short, temporary contracts of employment - alongside or temporarily instead of freelance work - including work on "rolling" contracts.

Kebab Zero © Matt Salusbury


Of course being paid by the article or by the image could be seen as the ultimate zero-hours contract. The Freelance thinks the key distinction is an element of exclusivity or of obligation - a contract under which you are not free to submit work, or work days, for others.

The obligation in a zero hour contract usually works only in one direction. They are not obliged to offer you work: you are obliged to accept it when offered. This is probably stretching the concept of "offer".

Also, you can be called at short notice to go into the workplace, and then be told after a couple of hours that there is no more work for you. A member at the September London Freelance Branch meeting reported she was on a zero-hours contract, under which "if you turned down work three times it's viewed quite seriously, but [there's] no formal bar on working for anybody else."

She described zero-hours contracts as "not good practice," and said they should be challenged.

If you encounter any such contracts that are zero-hour, let the NUJ know by email:

Last modified: 09 Oct 2013 - © 2013 contributors
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