DENBIGHSHIRE Council is being investigated after figures suggested it employs more than 1,600 staff on controversial zero hour contracts.
The authority employs 1,630 people on contracts defined as “casual” and “relief”, which deprive staff of fixed working hours and certain employment rights.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that they employ 1,630 staff on zero hour contracts.
But Denbighshire County Council has denied they have any staff on zero-hour contracts.
Zero hour contracts or similar casual employment can leave people with no guaranteed work each week and no fixed hours or work pattern.
Denbighshire County Council spokesman said: “Zero hours contracts require staff to take any work that is offered to them but casual contracts allow them to pick and choose, giving both parties (employer and employee) the same flexibility.
“Where we use casual contracts, it is predominantly to provide sickness and holiday absence cover to ensure services can continue to be delivered.
“This is mainly within the schools, leisure, care and catering and cleaning services.We also have a number of other permanent staff registered as having casual contracts with us for relief work they do separately to their main job.
“Use of casual contracts in this way is a well recognised way of providing flexibility and continuity in service provision.
“It is a cost effective way of ensuring essential services are covered and minimises the need for the council to pay for more expensive agency workers to cover absences.”
But Unison, a public service trade union, will be investigating Denbighshire County Council’s claims that they don’t use zero hour contracts.
Donna Hutton, Unison regional organiser, said: “There is no evidence at the moment they have zero hour contracts but we believe they are there.
“Unless staff have a genuine choice on taking a job it is the same as slavery.
“Casual work should only be used in emergency situations as staff don’t know if they will be working the next week.
“For some people it works but it doesn’t for the majority.”
Zero hour terms have recently prompted a Government review by business secretary Vince Cable.
A Freedom of Information request by Unison also revealed that Denbighshire County Council commissions 41 home care providers, the highest in Wales, fueling the rise in zero-hour contracts in homecare services.
Ms Hutton said: “Councils using companies without offering a set number of hours means they then use zero hour contracts.
“When care work is being delivered on the backs of people who do not know when they will next be working, that is being back in 18th century.”
Denbigh county councillor, Colin Hughes said: “I have been given clarification over the use of supply staff, including teachers, many of whom elect to work in this way.
“What does concern me in the statement from Unison is the use of care agencies and how they may employ their staff and I would urge anybody who is in this position to contact their local councillor with their concerns.
“Furthermore, I will be asking questions of those who run social care in Denbighshire about the way staff are employed on potential zero hour contracts which could mean that some weeks they have no income and are not entitled to the things that we take for granted like paid holidays and sickness pay.”