FLINTSHIRE Council employed more than 470 people on controversial zero-hours contracts in the last financial year, new figures have shown.
The authority revealed 472 staff members were employed on the contracts in 2012-13, working in schools, leisure services, care roles and youth services.
The figures, obtained under a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Leader, show an increase in the use of the much-maligned contracts since 2011-2012 when 427 staff members were employed on them.
Staff on the contracts worked an average of seven hours a week. The contracts offer no guarantee of work hours or pay.
Nationally the issue has been widely debated, with some politicians speaking out about the reported high number of workers on zero-hours contracts.
Last month, Labour leader Ed Miliband announced plans for a crackdown on the contracts, preventing them from being used exploitively.
At Flintshire Council, staff members employed on zero-hours contracts in 2012-2013 made up 5.84 per cent of the total workforce. They worked an average of 354.74 hours a year, or seven hours a week.
Helen Stappleton, Flintshire Council’s head of human resources, said: “Like many employers, Flintshire Council uses zero-hours contracts to deal with the variability of hours due to the fluctuating demand of some of our services such as leisure and care provision.
“While there is no obligation to provide or accept work, any worker engaged on a zero-hours basis for Flintshire Council enjoys the same pay and conditions, excluding pension, as the people they work alongside on conventional employment contracts for doing like-for-like work.
“The use of zero-hours contracts is kept under constant review to ensure workers are treated fairly and consistently and that the rationale for zero-hours contracts is valid.”
Reacting to the figures, Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami said the council needed to ‘address’ the situation.
“It’s very important the council moves as quickly as possible to address this,” he said. “Where employees want a more established contract, they should be able to.”
Delyn MP David Hanson said: “I know Flintshire Council supports the principle of a living wage. I hope as part of that, this issue will be looked at to give certainty to employees over income.”
The figures show 122 people were employed by the council on the contracts in 2008-2009 and 393 in 2009-10. In 2010-11, the number rose to 537, before falling to 427 in 2011-12.
There has also been an increase in the average number of hours worked by people on the contracts. In 2008-09 an average of just 94.8 hours were worked annually, compared to 354.74 in the 12 months to April this year.