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HMRC internal manual

National Minimum Wage Manual

Working time: zero hours contracts

The term “zero hours contract” is not defined in national minimum wage legislation. It is commonly used to describe an arrangement between an employer and worker where the worker is only employed for the period that work is provided and is not considered to be employed for those periods where the employer provides no work to the worker.

This casual arrangement is often used so that an employer can maintain a flexible workforce whilst not being committed to provide workers with work (or payment) where no work is available. Furthermore, the worker is not committed to the employer and may be able to turn down work and /or undertake additional employment when they are not engaged by the employer.

The casual nature of the contract is not an issue for national minimum wage. Workers who enter into such arrangements are entitled to be paid at least national minimum wage for their working time in the normal way.

When working, workers on these contracts are likely to be performing time work (NMWM07040) for national minimum wage purposes as the arrangements usually provide payment to the worker according to the length of time worked.

The times when the worker is not engaged by the employer will be treated as periods when no work is performed.