Committee examines legislation to change Zero Hour Contracts

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 14 February 2022

Reference: CfE 03/21/22

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Economy has begun its examination of The Employment (Zero Hours Workers and Banded Weekly Working Hours) Bill. The Bill aims to replace zero hour contracts with banded weekly hour contracts in cases where a worker’s hours, as set out in their contract, do not reflect the actual hours worked each week.

Zero hour contracts are contracts of employment offered to employees without any guarantee of work from the employer. Equally, the employee is not obligated to accept any work offered. However, there are cases where employees regularly and continuously work more hours than the amount specified in their contract. This Bill aims to create bands of hours for those affected workers. Once placed in a band, the Bill proposes that workers must then be given weekly working hours, which fall within that band, providing workers with greater stability.

Chairperson of the Committee, Dr Caoimhe Archibald MLA said: “It is estimated that approximately 11,000 workers here are on zero hour contracts. We recognise that flexibility can be desirable for both employees and employers, enabling businesses to respond to demand and growth, whilst enabling workers to balance work with other commitments.

“However, workers on zero hour contracts can often be required to be readily available but with no guarantee of work. The unpredictable and unreliable work patterns can lead to anxiety in workers, as well as uncertainty about income and can make it harder for some to make long term financial plans.

“We want to ensure that the rights of employees are also balanced with the needs of businesses and employers here.  Although this Bill has come to the Committee very late on in the mandate, we are committed to examining its proposals and listening to the views of those who could be affected by the Bill. We have designed a short survey to gather people’s views on the Bill’s proposals. We look forward to the results of the consultation and making recommendations on the Bill to the Assembly.”

The Committee has launched a public consultation to ask people for their views on the Bill. You can access the consultation’s survey here:



Notes to editor:

  • The Employment (Zero Hours Workers and Banded Weekly Working Hours) Bill is a Private Members’ Bill. It was introduced in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 15 November 2021 by Jemma Dolan MLA.


Committee Membership:

Chairperson: Dr Caoimhe Archibald MLA

Deputy Chairperson: Matthew O’Toole MLA


Keith Buchanan MLA

Stewart Dickson MLA

Stephen Dunne MLA

Mike Nesbitt MLA

John O’Dowd MLA

Claire Sugden MLA

Peter Weir MLA


Media enquiries to:

Caroline Moore
Deputy Communications Officer
Northern Ireland Assembly
Phone: 028 9052 1606