Darlington Council criticised over use of hundreds of zero-hours contracts

A council has defended its position after being criticised for employing almost 400 people on controversial zero-hour contracts.

Figures revealed following a request under the Freedom of Information Act show that Darlington Borough Council has 393 people on zero-hour contracts.

Zero-hour, or casual, contracts allow employers to hire staff with no guarantee of work and often without sick pay or pension benefits.

Labour has pledged to crackdown on their use and improve rights for workers.

Elizabeth Davison, assistant director for finance and human resources at Darlington Borough Council, defended the authority’s use of the contracts.

She said: “We only use zero-hour contracts for casual employees where the individual has the choice of whether to work when the work is offered, this gives both sides some flexibility.

“We use casual workers as an additional resource to our permanent staff to cover sickness or holidays or to cope with particularly busy periods.

“If any casual work becomes regular, an individual is paid the benefits that are associated with the role.”

Source –  Northern Echo,  12 Dec 2014

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