Does an employer have to pay a suspended employee on a zero hours contract?

You would think not but in the case of Obi v Rice Shack Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) ruled that this employer was, during a disciplinary suspension, obliged to pay the employee in question – even though she was engaged on a zero hours contract and, unknown to the employer, she had also obtained alternative employment whilst suspended.

“The problem the Respondent had identified in this case was entirely one of its own making. It chose to enter a contract with the Claimant of a zero hours’ nature, such that there was no obligation on her not to accept work for others or to tell the Respondent if she did.”

The EAT held that, under the terms of the employee’s contract, she had been entitled to accept other employment – which isn’t unusual and  had been under no obligation to notify the employer of this. However, there was no contractual right to suspend without pay and the employer could not point to any conduct on the part of the employee that would have entitled it to have summarily dismissed her. The employee was entitled to be paid for the period of the disciplinary suspension.

It is easy to think a zero hours contract is a blanket protection for an employer – they aren’t. If a contract isn’t properly drawn up, it offers no protection at all.

You can read about why contracts are important here and how we can help protect your business in a disciplinary matter here.

FREE first advice

Have you ever wanted to just ask an expert employment law solicitor if they can help you, without worrying about what it may cost to contact them?

Get in touch

We’d like to talk to you to see what we can do to help, so please either call us anytime for free on 08000 614 631, email us or use the form below.

Together we can work out what your next steps might confidence, at no cost and with no obligation.


* indicates required
McCabe and Co Solicitors will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:
You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.
We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.