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Labour praises Tory council for low use of zero hours contracts
LESS than 15 per cent of Wycombe's council staff are employed on controversial zero hours contracts, which critics say abuse their rights.
Figures from Conservative controlled Wycombe District Council show only 57 out of its 390 workers are on such terms.
Recently, concerns have been raised nationally about the contracts, after it was shown there has been a sharp rise in their use.
The Labour party has been among critics, but its Wycombe branch praised the Tory administration in the district for keeping numbers low.
Under the agreements, employees agree to work as and when required, with no specified amount of hours per week, unlike normal contracts. As a result there is no guaranteed income.
They cannot claim unemployment benefit and often cannot claim tax credits.
Unions have been among the biggest opponents, believing staff can be exploited and left insecure.
But the advantages are flexible working and at least some form of income for staff on zero hours, who are often young or retired people.
WDC spokesman Catherine Spalton said the 57 staff on zero hours contracts equates to 14.7 per cent of its workforce.
She said: “The majority of our zero hour contracts are used to employ 'as and when' electoral canvassers (37 out of the 57) who are paid a piece rate. “We tend to use the same people, so setting them up in this way reduces the admin costs associated with setting up and deleting records after each occasion of work.
“The other 20 zero hour contracts are to deal efficiently with peaks and troughs of work and to provide ad hoc cover – mainly in the areas of tourist information centres, the museum and parking services.
“Managers would always be advised that, should someone on a zero hour contract start to work with us on a more frequent basis, a different type of contract may be more appropriate. We do not use zero hours contracts in established posts.”
Councillor Ian Bates, Leader of Labour at WDC, said "It is not often that Wycombe Labour Party has grounds to speak well of Tory-controlled WDC.
“However, credit where credit is due, we are somewhat relieved about the approach WDC is adopting on zero hours contracts.” He said it was 'reasonable use'.
The Office for National Statistics announced last week it will start asking employers how many people they employ on zero-hours contracts.
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