The House of Lords is employing low-paid staff on zero-hours contracts, it has been revealed.
Up to 30 catering staff and 29 parliamentary reporters are on the contracts which employ staff on a ‘no work, no pay’ basis. ‘Zero-hour’ or casual work contracts do not guarantee a minimum number of hours for staff or basic employment rights such as sick pay and paid redundancy. They have been criticised by campaign groups as enabling employers to exploit staff.
The contracts have come to light as part of a Freedom of Information request obtained by The Sunday Mirror.
The House of Lords has faced growing criticism in recent months over perceived financial extravagance. Peers are paid £300 per day just for attending the chamber.
Lord Sewel recently resigned after high-profile allegations that he boasted of spending his allowance on cocaine and sex workers.
Calls for the upper chamber to be reformed were renewed this week as new peers were announced. They included a multi-millionaire who had made a number of large donations to the Conservative party and Douglas Hogg, the former Conservative MP who was widely ridiculed for claiming expenses for his moat.
The new members will cost up to £13,500 per day in expenses.
A spokesperson for the House of Lords defended the chamber’s use of zero-hour contracts at the same time. They told The Mirror that demand for workers “varies significantly week to week and [hours] are often unpredictable.”
They added: “The use of zero-hours staff instead of agency staff reduces costs to the tax payer.”
According to the Office for National Statistics, 697,000 people were employed on zero-hours contracts for their main job between October and December 2014- amounting to some 2.3 per cent of the UK workforce.Reuse content