Labour councillor spearheads reforms to zero-hours contracts

Councillor Ashley Walsh, who represents Petersfield and is Labour’s Spokesperson on Resources at Cambridgeshire County Council, has led major reform to the Council’s controversial use of zero-hours contracts after launching a probe in January. The Council’s Conservative Cabinet accepted almost all of Cllr Walsh’s recommendations at a meeting on Tuesday. For the first time, the Council will now have a policy for the use and management of zero-hours contracts and will introduce brand new management guidelines to protect workers. The Council will also review whether zero-hours contracts are the best way to deliver services like social care in response to concerns that these services need more permanent staff.

Cllr Walsh said: ‘The Council employs 1138 people on zero-hours contracts, the overwhelming majority of them women, but its management structures seem woefully inadequate. Some people prefer a zero-hours contract because it gives them flexible hours but these contracts must not be a way for the Council to save money or deny people proper employment rights.

‘Many people do not want to stay on these contracts because they cannot predict from one week to the next what their working hours and wages will be and cannot plan how to support themselves or their families. The cost of living and house prices in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire is already far too high and these contracts should not be worsening inequality in our prosperous region. As one of the largest employers in Cambridgeshire, the County Council should be a model employer enabling everyone to share the prosperity of our city and region.’

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