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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 75137
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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We have a new employee, age 20, as a trainee floor fitter.

Customer Question

We have a new employee, age 20, as a trainee floor fitter. We need to draft up his contract. He will be working varied hours, approximately 37-40 per week. But if work dries up, or another lockdown hits us, we won't be able to afford to pay this. Is it sensible to put him on a zero hour contract or does a flexible contract exist? His hours may not be the same each week so we need to be sure we are being fair to him but covering ourselves too.
JA: Have you discussed this with your HR staff? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: No
JA: Is the relevant person an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Does he belong to a union?
Customer: Employee
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: No
Submitted: 15 days ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

When you say a ‘flexible contract’ do you mean in terms of hours?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.

Yes absolutely, in case of the work not being available worst case scenario. We are a small family business. Private Ltd company

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Thank you very much for clarifying. There are a few options for you:

One is to have a zero hours contract which means that you simply do not guarantee him any minimum hours of work and he cannot have an expectation of any hours from you. The drawback is that any hours offered to him, he is free to reject and there is also no obligation to accept them. He may never exercise that right but it is important to bear it in mind.

You could have a normal contract, with set hours, but also have a lay off or short time working clause in it. The formal definitions of these two options are as follows:

- Lay off - if an employee has been told to go home, unpaid, for at least one full working day.

- Short-time working - if an employee's pay for the week is less than half a normal week's pay.

You can therefore rely on that clause to shorten his work or completely remove him from duties, if business dries up. The drawback there is that it has a limited shelf-life and after 6 weeks he can start a formal request to be made redundant instead.

Finally, you can still have a normal contract with set hours, but a clause which allows you to make changes to it as and when necessary. The drawback there is that such a clause does not give you a free path to make whatever changes you want, you would still need to give him reasonable notice and, if challenged, you have to be able to justify why such changes were necessary in the first place.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
This is extremely helpful thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

You are most welcome. If you have any further questions about this, please do not hesitate to get back to me and I will be happy to help. All the best