Council defends stark increase in use of zero-hours contracts

08:22 10 July 2014




The number of staff working at East Cambridgeshire District Council under zero-hours contracts has increased by almost a third in the last year.

In August 2013, the Ely Standard revealed that the district council had 43 members of

staff employed on the controversial contract, which has made national headlines in recent months as unions allege they are being used as a means of “exploiting” staff.

Almost 12 months on and a new Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that the council now has 56 staff available for work on zero-hours contracts – an increase of some 30 per cent.

According to the council, staff on the contracts are used for cleaning, gardening, marketing, events and for tourist information.

The district council has insisted that its employees, no matter what contract they are employed under, are treated well.

John Hill, chief executive, said: “East Cambridgeshire District Council is a small organisation which consistently seeks to deliver the best for its residents. To deliver our services we sometimes need additional employees to provide support at peak times in areas such as tourism, including events, and holiday cover in areas such as the maintenance of park and open spaces and cleaning of public conveniences as well as for other services.

“Regardless of what kind of contract our staff are employed under we know how important it is to treat staff well – we pride ourselves on ensuring that everyone works for the benefit of our residents and East Cambridgeshire as a whole.”

A zero-hour contract creates an ‘on call’ arrangement between employer and employee.

The employee agrees to be available for work as and when required, so that no particular number of hours or times of work are specified. The employee is expected to be on call and receives compensation only for hours worked.

Back in May, the Office for National Statistics said that 1.4million people in the UK were on zero-hours contracts.

UNISON, the UK’s largest trade union, is leading a campaign against zero-hours contracts and its eastern region branch is set to join a conference on the issue taking place in Bristol, on Friday.

The union said: “Zero-hours contracts are increasingly used by major employers, but they mean staff work - and get paid - only when employers need them, often at short notice.

“Some zero-hours contracts oblige workers to take all shifts they are offered, while there is often no holiday or sick pay.

“The conciliation service Acas says that a lot of workers on zero-hours contracts are afraid of looking for work elsewhere, turning down hours, or questioning their employment rights in case their work is withdrawn or reduced.

“UNISON has warned that his type of employment is insecure, stressful and makes budgeting impossible.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Ely Standard visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Ely Standard staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Ely Standard account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More news stories

The proposed straw pelleting plant.

Opposition to a proposed straw-pelleting plant in Queen Adelaide is continuing to build – with noise pollution and harm to wildlife chief among the concerns.

Scores of people gathered to enjoy the 20th annual Trikefest, in Littleport.
Picture: Clinton Edwards.

Motorcycle and trike riders were out in force last weekend for the 20th annual Trikefest event in Littleport.

Jonathan Rogers with Pamela Blakeman, Michael Young, of the Ely Society publications group, and Kevin Evans, of the Ely Society.

An Ely Cathedral guide has published a book which explores the unique sculptures of the Lady Chapel.

The International Criminal Court.

A Witchford firm has won a major contract to provide a new broadcast system for the International Criminal Court in The Netherlands.

Most read stories

Most commented stories

Digital Edition

Read the Ely Standard e-edition today E-edition