Two per cent of council staff on controversial zero hours contracts

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Milton Keynes Council has confirmed that “less than two per cent” of its staff are currently employed on zero hours contracts.

The use of zero hours contracts is currently the subject of much controversy, as it is believed that some employers are using the arrangement inappropriately, with Sports Direct, Burger King and Domino’s Pizza some of the companies making the national headlines.

The use of zero hours contracts in the private sector has also been the subject of criticism, with Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, warning against “exploitation” of staff.

A statement from Milton Keynes Council said: “The council has a wide and varied workforce delivering services to MK residents and so recruits its workforce to meet these needs by having a number of options available.

“Much of the work for MK residents is delivered by staff who are employed on a range of full and part time hours, additionally some peaks of demand are met by the use of a flexible workforce employed on zero hours contracts.

“The zero hours contracts offered to the council’s flexible workforce mirror the pay and conditions of any other council worker; the contract does not require them to be exclusively available to the council to work on demand and allows the worker to refuse work when they choose not to work.

“Staff employed on zero hours contracts are small in number and equate to less than two per cent of staff.

“These employees are paid on the same pay scales as other council staff and if dissatisfied with their treatment have the same recourse to Employment Tribunals.

“The contract offers pay and leave for statutory entitlements, for example maternity (SMP) and paternity providing that they meet the eligibility criteria, in the same way as any other employee.

“Staff employed on zero hours contracts can also join the Local Government Pension scheme subject to meeting the relevant eligibility criteria.

“These zero hours contracts are mutually beneficial both to those undertaking the work because of the flexibility it offers the staff and to the council because it enables the council to meet demand with a suitably skilled workforce in a cost effective way.

“The council agreed these arrangements with trades union representatives before they were introduced.”