LEEDS: Zero-hours contracts “misused” by some employers, meeting hears

Coun Jonathan Pryor
Coun Jonathan Pryor

More than 10,000 people in Leeds are on zero-hours contracts, it has been estimated

It was also suggested at a Leeds City Council infrastructure scrutiny committee that some employers were “misusing” the zero hours contracts.

It follows a report which went before members looking into the council’s inclusive growth strategy, which aims to use the city’s economic growth to help pull citizens out of poverty.

The report warned: “The changing face of the labour market is something we need to recognise. The rise of the gig economy, zero hours contracts, and an increase in insecurity of work, is likely to continue.

“This seems to be the trade off for increasing volumes of work.”

A presentation at the meeting added it was estimated that between 10,000 and 11,000 people in Leeds were employed on zero-hours contracts and that they were suitable for people who wanted casual work.

However, answering questions from the committee, Coun Jonathan Pryor, the council’s executive member for Learning, Skills and Employment, told the meeting that many employers were misusing the contracts, and that this was having a tough effect on the economy.

He said: “When you have large unemployment, you get low paid jobs, because employers can pay what they like.

“What we have at the moment is low unemployment, but the economy is behaving like there is high unemployment.

“People on zero-hours contracts are behaving, economically, like they’re unemployed.

“That is one of the things that is speeding the wealth gap.

“Personally I don’t think we should abolish zero hours contracts. But the problem is that they are used in ways they shouldn’t be.

“They are now being used for jobs that should be contracted properly – that is where regulation should come in.”