A zero hours contract is an employment contract used in the UK where workers are not guaranteed work but are expected to remain available. The amount of work can vary resulting in little or no pay.
Employers can call in workers, those with contracts, when they need them, but do not need to pay them for hours that they remain available but have not been working. Employees on zero hours contracts typically receive few or no employee benefits such as holiday pay or sick pay and are not entitled to redundancy pay.
For workers who might otherwise be unemployed, the advantage is that they can keep using their skills and they might end up fully employed.
In April 2013 it was reported that professionals in UK including doctors, lecturers and journalists were being put on zero hours contracts. The report referred to a British Labour Force survey which found that the total number of employees on zero hours contracts rose 25 per cent over 2012 and had risen more than 150 per cent since the autumn of 2005.