Should my contract of employment specify my total hours of work?

The written statement of employment particulars, which should be given to employees within one month of starting work, should include "details of terms and conditions of employment relating to hours of work and normal working hours."

In order to avoid misunderstanding, normal hours should be specified and the policy on overtime should be made clear.

If you work annualised hours, a normal working week's hours should still be stated so that, for example, holiday pay can be correctly calculated.

In addition, if your wages vary depending on the number of hours you work, your payslip must specify the number of hours you are being paid for. 

Recent years have seen an explosion in employment contracts without a minimum number of guaranteed hours (including ‘zero hour’ contracts), up from 1.7 million in 2016 to 1.8 million in 2017. In this type of arrangement, “normal working hours” are typically described as “to be agreed”, “as required”, or even “zero”, leaving workers with no ability to predict their hours or earnings from one week to the next, and at the mercy of bad employers.

Two-thirds of workers polled by the TUC would prefer a contract with guaranteed hours, and almost three-quarters have been offered hours with less than 24 hours’ notice. If you feel insecure at work, it is a good idea to join a union. The best way to deal with bad treatment at work is often to work together with other workers to get a better deal. Browse our Unionfinder tool to find the most appropriate union for you.

The law is going to change in April 2020. In future, employers will be legally obliged to provide more detail about working hours and days in the written statement. And all workers (not just employees) will be entitled to a written statement from the first day of their job. 

In particular, in future employers will have to provide written information on your normal working hours, working days, whether those hours or days may vary and if so how, and how that variation is decided, as well as how long a job is expected to last. They will be required to provide this information from day one of your job.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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