THE SNP have said only independence can protect Scottish workers from “outdated” UK Government employment laws.

It follows new statistics which show that the number of people on zero-hour contracts in Scotland has risen by 1100.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that between the months of July and September of this year, around 81,000 people in Scotland were employed on a zero-hour contract – a 0.4% increase on last year – making up 3% of the country’s employment.

Despite the increase, Scotland still has a lower percentage of people on zero-hour contracts than the UK.

SNP MP Chris Stephens (below) has campaigned against zero-hour contracts in the past and presented a Workers’ Rights Bill that would have eliminated them. He has also repeatedly urged the UK Government to bring in the promised but long-awaited Employment Bill.

“The only way for Scotland to finally rid itself of the outdated employment laws implemented by this UK Government is to become an independent country,” said Stephens.

He added: “Over the last year, my SNP colleagues and I have campaigned tirelessly for the UK Government to update and modify current UK employment laws – including scrapping zero-hour contracts, removing the age discrimination within the minimum wage, and bringing in statutory sick pay for all – but we have been ignored by the Tories at Westminster.

“We have presented numerous Bills, including my Workers’ Rights Bill, but many have failed to progress due to lack of UK government support and Westminster’s draconian system whereby Bills are able to be talked out.”

Employment law is reserved to Westminster and SNP MP Martin-Docherty Hughes’s Employment Bill is due its second reading on March 18.

The Scottish Government introduced guidance to ensure that companies bidding for public sector contracts don’t use exploitative zero-hour contracts.

It is also encouraging businesses to commit to not using exploitative contracts through the Scottish Business Pledge.

Stephens added: “Whilst the UK Tory government is dragging its feet on bringing in its promised Employment Bill, the SNP Scottish Government are working hard to end zero-hour contracts in Scotland, with Scotland having a lower proportion than the UK.

“SNP MPs will continue to work to abolish exploitative zero-hour contracts but it is clear that while employment law remains reserved to Westminster, who refuse to bring in a Real Living Wage, people will continue to struggle to get by and have to rely on food banks.”