College student working under a zero-hours contract is awarded £4,000 despite finding other employment

zero-hour contracts

College student working under a zero-hours contract is awarded £4,000 despite finding other employment

A college student working for a restaurant on a zero-hours contract is owed more than £4,000 in unpaid wages, despite starting a new full-time job midway through a nine month suspension from her job role, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has decided.


In 2015, Miss D Obi began working her zero-hours contract for Rice Shack in Manchester. This type of contract was beneficial to Obi as it allowed her to pick and choose the shifts she worked around her college commitments. Normally, Obi would earn on average £102.50 for working 15 and a half hours a week.


Miss D Obi’s contract with the restaurant allowed her to look for alternative employment. Rice Shack also couldn’t be certain that Obi would decline shifts after starting her new job because it offered her no work for almost another four months, the EAT stated.


Obi was suspended in March 2016, following an altercation at work. Rice Shack said it would begin a disciplinary investigation and suspended her. However, Miss Obi’s employment contract states Rice Shack don’t have the right to suspend her from work. At the initial tribunal hearing, the restaurant accepted they couldn’t suspend her without pay.


A disciplinary hearing was supposed to take place however, this diminished gradually. Obi submitted a written grievance in May 2016. This included complaints that she hadn’t been paid when she was suspended. A grievance hearing took place in June, although Obi later had to chase for meeting notes.


On 22nd August, Obi began working full-time at a call centre however she didn’t disclose this to Rice Shack. The restaurant contacted Obi on 13th December 2016 to offer her work shifts. Obi responded to the restaurant three days later and said she would return to work however she’d like to be paid for the duration of her suspension. She also hadn’t heard of the outcome of her grievance hearing and reminded them that she was still waiting.


Obi filed an employment tribunal claim for unauthorised deductions from wages in July 2016. She was asked to provide a document of her losses along with details of her attempts to mitigate in September. Even though Obi’s call centre job paid her more than her job at Rice Shack, she provided no details of loss mitigation. Rice Shack became aware of Obi’s new job at the call centre at the beginning of January 2017.


The tribunal hearing went ahead in February. Rice Shack agreed that Obi should be paid her average wages however, they argued that she should only be paid until August when she started working full-time at the call centre. Manchester Employment Tribunal disagreed with Rice Shack and decided she should be paid her average wages for the full duration of her suspension period, which totalled to £4,087.


The EAT upheld the tribunal’s decision. Judge Eady stated “Ultimately, the problem [Rice Shack] has identified in this case is entirely one of its own making”.


According to the statistics from the Contracts that do not guarantee a minimum number of hours: April 2018, 1.8 million worked under zero-hour contracts in November 2017 whereas a year before, only 1.7 million worked under contracts that didn’t guarantee the same hours each week.


The flexibility that is offered in zero hour contracts is a main reason as to why they are so popular. Workers can choose which shifts they do and don’t want to work. This is especially beneficial for those who have no other commitments because they can accept more hours to work.


A disadvantage of zero hour contracts is there is no guarantee of work. This is very risky for workers because they could be down to work so many hours one week and then none the next.


If you need any support or zero-hour contracts, please contact a member of the HPC team:


T: 0844 800 5932


Twitter: @HPC_HRservices


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