The Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service must “honour” its “obligations” and cease the practice of hiring staff on zero-hour contracts, a MSP has said.
Labour’s Katy Clark has penned a letter to the Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) chief executive Erin McQueen demanding the use of zero-hour contracts ends.
It comes as recent reports suggest 16 members of staff are currently employed in such arrangements, in breach of Scottish Government diktat.
In 2018, the Fair Work Agreement stipulated that the SCTS, along with other public bodies, must not be used.
Last month, ONS data revealed Scotland remains the “zero-hours capital” of the UK with the number of contracts offering no guaranteed hours increased by 4,000.
Clark, who is a member of the Criminal Justice Committee, also noted in the letter that SCTS advertised for legal advisors on a zero hour contractual basis as recently as March, even explicitly describing the arrangements as “zero hours contracts”.
She said: “Despite the Scottish Government’s rhetoric around fair work, Scotland has the highest use of zero hours contracts of all the UK nations, public contracts are still handed out to firms that use them, and, most alarmingly, we now know that public bodies are openly flouting a directive not to use them.
“The SCTS has said that these contracts are only offered in ‘exceptional circumstances’. That is not acceptable. The Fair Work Agreement, signed and ratified by Scottish ministers, is not an optional document. It was agreed in good faith by civil service unions only five years ago. The lack of progress is therefore deeply disappointing.
“I would call on the SCTS, and all public bodies, to honour their obligations, follow best practice and uphold workers’ rights.”
A SCTS spokesperson said: “In line with the Fair Work Agreement, SCTS zero hours contracts of employment do not compel employees to make themselves available for work.
“Under SCTS zero hours contracts, employees are offered work on a flexible basis and are free to accept or decline any work offers. The employees are recruited in line with the Civil Service Recruitment principles and are employed on permanent contracts of employment with statutory entitlements and eligibility for employee benefits.
“SCTS currently employs 16 zero hours contract employees. The use of zero hour contracts are appropriately offered in exceptional circumstances, often in remote areas where the services required are not predictable.”