LABOUR’S pledge to ban zero-hours contracts does not go far enough as there are no guarantees on how long the Tories will stay out of power, a trade union leader has warned.

STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer has called for devolution of employment law to Scotland over concerns it has the highest proportion of workers on these type of contracts in the UK.

But deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner last week rejected calls for devolved employment law – which have also been made by the SNP – saying they are not needed under the party’s ‘new deal’ for workers.

The number of zero-hours contracts in use north of the Border increased from 105,000 to 109,000 in the quarter between April to June, according to the latest Labour Force survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Scotland leads the way in the UK for use of these contracts, with 4.1% of workers employed on them, compared to 3.6% in England, 3.2% in Wales and 1.5% in Northern Ireland.

READ MORE: SNP warn Labour to commit to devolving employment law

Foyer told the Sunday National: “We absolutely would favour the devolution of employment law at the STUC, that has been a longstanding policy and it is something we would very much like to see any incoming Labour government seriously consider.

“There are a number of reasons for that – one is that much that while we will welcome the fact we have got potentially a UK Labour government that is going to come in and has made commitments they will outlaw zero-hour contracts, we can’t guarantee how long we are not going to have a Tory government at UK level for.”

Foyer pointed to Northern Ireland, where employment law is devolved, saying workers had been largely protected by the attacks on employment rights which have taken place in recent years under the UK Tory government.

She added: “We have reason to believe that whatever nature of government we end up with here in Scotland, there is a commitment to higher standards of employment law.

"We think Scotland could be a real pace setter on that front, certainly with the commitment to fair work that we are seeing at the moment.

“The trouble is we have got a lot of commitment and a lot of words about fair work, but not much change on the ground as they simply don’t have the powers to enact it.

“By all means bring in the new deal for workers, by all means set a set of minimum standards across the UK so we don’t end up with a race to the bottom.

“But then those areas where we have devolved administrations should immediately have devolution powers around employment law passed onto them, so that we can actually have a race to the top in terms of workers’ rights and wellbeing economy.”

Foyer said more research was needed to look at why Scotland has the highest proportion of zero-hour contracts, but she suggested the number of small and medium size enterprises and a large hospitality industry north of the Border could explain some of the difference.

She added: “From our point of view, the issue is that it is quite shocking that Scotland has the highest rate given that we are part of a nation that wants to be a fair work world leader by 2025.

“A zero-hours contract culture would have no place in a fair work economy.”

The ONS statistics also show that across the UK, the 16-24 year age group is most likely to be on a zero-hours contact, at 13% compared to just 1.8% for 35-39 year olds.

Women are also far more likely to be on these contracts than men, at 4.4% compared to 2.9%.

READ MORE: Labour party makes reported U-turn on workers’ rights

Foyer said while the contracts could offer flexibility for some workers, they would be “very much in the minority”, and the reality was it meant employers have power over who gets a shift.

She said: “At a UK-level there was research done which showed the predominance of worker from BME communities who are on zero hour contracts.

“There are groups of disadvantaged workers who are more likely to end up on these zero-hour contracts and I think that is quite a telling story in and of itself.”

Sasha Josette, director of campaign group Zero Hours Justice, said: “Zero hours contracts are a stain on the economy.

“They cause anxiety and fear amongst workers leaving them financially insecure and unable to plan their lives with any certainty.

“They are also bad for business and a key factor in the recruitment crisis in the social care, hospitality and service sectors.”

The UK Government has said zero-hours contracts are an “important part of our flexible labour market and can provide opportunities for people who may need to balance work and other commitments”.