In the United Kingdom, so-called "Zero-Hours Contracts" have become one of the most high-profile employment law issues of recent years, leading to government regulation in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act of 2015. In this article, we set out and analyse the legal and empirical evidence of work under Zero-Hours arrangements and suggest that whilst a legal engagement with Zero-Hours Contracts as an unresolved labour market problem had been long overdue, the current discourse surrounding these work arrangements is fundamentally flawed: there is no such thing as the Zero-Hours Contract as a singular category; the label serves as no more than a convenient shorthand for masking the explosive growth of precarious work for a highly fragmented workforce. The recent statutory "regulation" of Zero-Hours Contracts, limited to a ban of exclusivity clauses, thus constitutes nothing less than a significant shift towards the normalisation of all but the most extreme forms of abusive employment arrangements, leaving a rapidly increasing number of workers without recourse to employment protective norms. In concluding, we indicate ways towards a more coherent approach to the de-normalisation and progressive regulation of this large and growing set of casual work arrangements.
Keywords: Zero-hours contracts; Subordination; Exclusivity clauses; Intermittent work.