Hartlepool council aims to get rid of zero-hours contracts

Hartlepool Borough Council says it does not support zero-hour contracts in principle – and is encouraging its contractors to take the same stance.

The council has considered six key principles, proposed by Putting Hartlepool First, around improving terms for workers on the contracts.

Councillors for the party said they are incompatible with building a loyal, skilled and productive workforce, and make it hard for workers to plan their budgets,

A wider review of the council’s use of the contracts is also ongoing, and is due to be completed by October.

There are currently 22 Hartlepool council workers employed on zero-hour contracts but that number is expected to fall.

But it says they may sometimes be the best way of meeting the authority’s needs.

The council’s stance is to be included in its pay policy, and will state:

“The council does not generally support the use of zero-hours contracts.

“However, there may be circumstances where the use of zero-hour contracts is the most effective and efficient way of meeting the council’s needs, and the assistant chief executive (or nominees) will determine when this applies.

“Where employees are employed on a zero-hours contract they are employed on a fixed or permanent basis, are entitled to request a review of their contracted hours at any time after six months in post and are not prevented from working for other employees.”

Contractors employed by the council will be required to pay workers the National Minimum Wage and also encouraged to pay the council’s Living Wage.

With regard to the use of zero-hours contracts, the council policy states contractors will avoid using them.

A report said some council employees work relatively small hours a year either with or without zero hour contracts.

It stated:

“This type of working pattern would enable employees to be offered a fixed term or permanent contracts ultimately further reducing the number of zero-hour contracts across the council.”

The council will also write to its contractors highlighting its policy. But the council added zero-hour contracts may be the best option where regular hours cannot be guaranteed such as for teachers of courses that only run if there are enough people.

Source – Hartlepool Mail, 14 Apr 2015

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