Minimum shift on zero hours contract

We have a young ukranian lady living with us. First time working. She works part time at two jobs, one job is a 16 hour contract with set days (Mon Tues Wed) and a zero hours contract as a receptionist at a hotel. She has been working Thurs Fri Sat at this job. Her manager sounds like she is penalising her slightly, basically saying she can only do certain shifts because she’s not as good at the others. Little red flags. 
This week her planned 8 hour shift on Saturday was changed to 4 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday, so no day off for her. She explained this and the manager basically said tough. When she went in for her Sunday 4 hour shift, the manager called and said it’s quiet I need you to leave after 2 hours - quoting business needs. 
From the sounds of it, she’s being singled out. Other people have been asked to reduce their hours and go home early but not after only 2 hours. She asked to change a shift the other day with someone (from a 10-6 to a 7-3) as we had a council 12 month visit regarding her staying here, and despite the other worker agreeing to change, the manager said no and said she should just finish 1.5 hours early. 
She’s very upset, it takes her a long time to get ready and half an hour to walk to work. 
Having looked online at zero hours National guidance, I think she could probably argue she’s being caused ‘Detriment’ - example from website below -

An employer must not cause you 'detriment' for something connected to your zero-hours contract. For example, you assert your right to the same minimum wage and rest break rights as permanent employees. Detriment means you experience one or both of the following:

  • being treated worse than before
  • having your situation made worse

Examples of detriment could be:

  • your employer reduces your hours
  • you experience bullying
  • you experience harassment
  • your employer turns down your training requests without good reason
  • you are overlooked for promotions or development opportunities
My question, is there a minimum shift she should expect? I know that she isn’t obligated to accept hours and shouldn’t be penalised if she turns down a shift, but I feel that this would simply mean her manager stopped offering her shifts. What are her rights here? It feels to me like the manager is just using the zero hours contracts and young workers to her advantage and doing whatever she wants. 

Comments

  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,906 Forumite
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    If she's worked there for less than 2 years no matter what her contract she has rather limited rights.  The manager could just stop giving her any shifts whatsoever and there's no comeback really.

    According to the gov.uk site there doesn't seem to be a minimum number of hours to work each day.  But there is the right to say no to a shift.  So she could have said no to Sunday.  But it sounds like you already know that.

    Contract types and employer responsibilities: Zero-hours contracts - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

    Yes - I quite agree that the manager is taking advantage.  Zero hours contracts are fine when there is trust and cooperation between the employer and the employee but it doesn't sound like there is here. 

    Do be sure that should she leave/quit/not be given further shifts she is on the correct pay (national minimum at least) and that she gets paid for any accrued holidays.  Some employers make it easier for themselves and factor in the cost of the holidays to be paid with each hour worked but it's best to check her contract if this is the case.  If the employer messes up on either of these then be sure to get them reported as it's unlikely that she is the only one that may have been taken advantage of. 
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,612 Forumite
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    Workers on zero hour contracts have effectively no rights other than to be paid no less than minimum wage, not be discriminated against where protected characteristics apply and be paid for the appropriate holiday allowance.


    But as you say, if she complains, odds on she won't get any more shifts. So (much as it pains me to say this) she should either just get on with it and/or look for another job
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  • Grumpy_chap
    Grumpy_chap Posts: 14,861 Forumite
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    We have a young ukranian lady living with us. First time working. She works part time at two jobs, one job is a 16 hour contract with set days (Mon Tues Wed) and a zero hours contract as a receptionist at a hotel. She has been working Thurs Fri Sat at this job. Her manager sounds like she is penalising her slightly, basically saying she can only do certain shifts because she’s not as good at the others. Little red flags. 
    This week her planned 8 hour shift on Saturday was changed to 4 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday, so no day off for her. She explained this and the manager basically said tough. When she went in for her Sunday 4 hour shift, the manager called and said it’s quiet I need you to leave after 2 hours - quoting business needs. 
    From the sounds of it, she’s being singled out. Other people have been asked to reduce their hours and go home early but not after only 2 hours. She asked to change a shift the other day with someone (from a 10-6 to a 7-3) as we had a council 12 month visit regarding her staying here, and despite the other worker agreeing to change, the manager said no and said she should just finish 1.5 hours early. 
    She’s very upset, it takes her a long time to get ready and half an hour to walk to work. 
    Having looked online at zero hours National guidance, I think she could probably argue she’s being caused ‘Detriment’ - example from website below -

    An employer must not cause you 'detriment' for something connected to your zero-hours contract. For example, you assert your right to the same minimum wage and rest break rights as permanent employees. Detriment means you experience one or both of the following:

    • being treated worse than before
    • having your situation made worse

    Examples of detriment could be:

    • your employer reduces your hours
    • you experience bullying
    • you experience harassment
    • your employer turns down your training requests without good reason
    • you are overlooked for promotions or development opportunities
    My question, is there a minimum shift she should expect? I know that she isn’t obligated to accept hours and shouldn’t be penalised if she turns down a shift, but I feel that this would simply mean her manager stopped offering her shifts. What are her rights here? It feels to me like the manager is just using the zero hours contracts and young workers to her advantage and doing whatever she wants. 
    Anyone on a zero hour contract has very few rights.  The whole premise of zero hour contracts are around flexibility for both parties.  Whether that is true of not in practice may be open to debate.

    Anyone in their first two years of employment has very few rights.  You have not mentioned how long she has been in role, but I assume less than two years.

    Is there any substance to the Manager's view that she is not as good as other people in the role?

    In reality, raising any challenge (particularly structured on more finessed argument such as "detriment" which you have researched) is only likely to result in fewer hours or no hours.
    The way to gain more hours is to be demonstrably the best and the Manager's first call "go to" person.
    It may be time for her to look for an alternative second-job.

    I realise this must all be a very difficult time for her, but sugar-coating the message won't change the reality of the employment situation.
  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,672 Forumite
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    edited 19 August 2023 at 6:35PM
    I would also add that it’s not the hotel’s fault that she is  working three days somewhere else so isn’t getting a day off. They are giving her days off and she is choosing to work them elsewhere. It’s also not really their problem that she takes a long time to get ready.

    A different field of work, but we had two hour shifts sometimes, because that was the business need. There isn’t anything to say that a shift has to be a minimum length. 

    if she feels she is being bullied, then she might just be better off, looking for a job somewhere else.  There’s enough service industry jobs with employers desperate to fill the gaps at the moment.

    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
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