Zero hours contracts reviewed at Cambridgeshire County Council.

15:17 19 March 2014

Shire Hall Cambridge.

Shire Hall Cambridge.

Archant

Guidelines are to be put in place for 863 staff who are on zero hours contracts with Cambridgeshire County Council.

A meeting was held this week where members agreed that zero hours contracts must not be abused and that staff must have an independent contact they can go to if they have concerns.

A report to the Resources and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee said that some people when questioned about their contracts said they had experienced “negative experiences from bullying, favouritism, to a divide and rule approach to communication.”

Others had said “where a good, open relationship with management had developed and employees were kept informed, employees were generally happy.”

The county council has an average hourly rate of £9.89 for a total of 456 females and 122 males on zero contracts only.

An additional 285 people have zero hours contracts in addition to other substantial contracted work within the council.

Around 6.3 per cent of the council’s staff are on zero hours contracts and all of them are entitled to sick and holiday pay.

If they work frequently and regularly then they are considered for salary progression in line with colleagues on a permanent basis.

A report said: “Zero hours workers are used as an alternative to agency workers wherever possible because it is more economical for the organisation to have a pool of relief workers to call upon than pay the rates agencies charged.”

The meeting heard that the council wants to make sure that relief and zero hours contracts are “utilised appropriately and not abused.

“This is a careful balance between managing the service as cost effectively as possible, whilst avoiding the hidden costs of managing large numbers of staff each working very few hours.”

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