DUDLEY Council will look to minimise its use of zero hours contracts following calls for fixed hours to be offered to regular workers.

The authority currently employs around 250 people on the controversial contracts, mostly for seasonal hospitality work.

But Councillor John Martin, who represents Brockmoor and Pensnett, has written to Dudley's leader, Councillor David Sparks to urge him "set a good example" and take away the "insecurity" that many workers on the contracts face.

Cllr Martin, who is also chairman of the council’s HR Appeals committee, believes workers should have the right to demand a fixed hours contract if they have worked regular hours for six months.

He has also called for employees to automatically receive a fixed hours contract when they have worked regular hours for more than a year – unless the worker decides to opt out.

Additional assurances Cllr Martin believes should come in to force include compensation when shifts are cancelled at short notice and protection from being forced into working at very short notice.

He said: "These proposals recognise that for some people, like those in semi-retirement, with caring responsibilities or students fitting work between studies, these contracts can provide just the kind of flexibility they are looking for.

"The problem is these arrangements are wide open to abuse. These recommendations will retain the flexibility that some individuals are looking for but will remove the potential for abuse of workers.”

Councillor Sparks, told the News: “We are currently in discussions with the unions to minimise the use of zero hours contracts we have at the council.

"The only time that they are used is when there is no other alternative and with the approval of the unions.”