There’s nothing wrong with zero hours contracts in themselves. I used to work in a hospital. After I changed jobs, I was kept on a zero hours contract with the hospital so I could do some extra hours at weekends etc and they would just pay me for those few occasions. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The problem with zero hours contracts comes when employers use them as a way of avoiding the responsibilities they have to workers. It is absolutely not ok, and it is absolutely unlawful, to employ staff on zero hours contracts, give them full time or significant part time hours, and refuse to give them the terms and conditions they would have if they were employed on a contract for those hours. You cannot, in law, give someone a zero hours contract, employ them for 40 hours a week for months on end, and tell them they’re not entitled to paid holiday because they have a zero hours contract. If this is happening to you, its wrong. Join a union, get help.
Most workers who work a 5 day week must get at least 28 days paid annual leave per year. This is worked out by multiplying their days worked per week (5) by the annual entitlement of 5.6 weeks. Part-time workers are also entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid holiday each year, although this may amount to fewer actual days of paid holiday than a full-time worker would get. For example, if a worker works 3 days a week, their leave is calculated by multiplying 3 by 5.6 which comes to 16.8 days of annual paid leave. It’s more complicated if someone works irregular hours, such as through shift work or with varying hours on a zero hours contract, but tools exist to help calculate how much leave someone is entitled to. You start accruing holiday from the day you start work, and when you leave a job you are entitled to pay for leave accrued but not taken. The Law Society website has some useful information about how to work out leave entitlements for casual and temporary workers.
If you are a worker on a zero hours contract but you are being offered and are working hours, you are entitled to paid holiday. The amount of paid leave you can take will depend on how many hours you have worked, but it will not be none.
Also – Lush managers, please note: it might not be illegal to get rid of zero hours staff by deliberately giving them so few hours that they get fed up and leave, rather than actually terminating their contract (but then again, in some cases it might be) but it’s definitely a cowardly, shitty way to behave.