BANNING controversial zero-hour contracts would be counter-productive to employees and businesses, according to a Bury MP.

The contracts provide no set hours of work or income for employees, and have been criticised for leaving staff in a state of “insecurity”.

However David Nuttall, MP for Bury North, said banning them would damage certain industries, and lead to fewer chances of a job for many people.

At a full meeting of Bury Council in September last year, it was revealed the local authority then employed 3,743 people on the contracts, mostly as supply staff and casual workers, to meet seasonal demand and staff shortfall.

The contracts are also used for roles such as residential and home care workers, cleaners, caretakers, refuse collection, grounds maintenance, and waiting and bar staff in civic halls. Mr Nuttall said: “While zero-hour contracts are not suitable for everyone, and no doubt there will be some people who have a zero hours contract who would like to have a different contract, many people actually prefer the freedom and flexibility a zero-hour contract provides.

“I think banning them altogether would be counter-productive for both businesses and employees.

“It would damage specific industries and reduce the employment — and wage — prospects for the thousands of people who value them.

“Many people use these contracts as a useful way into the workforce.”

The Government is currently in the process of introducing laws that would ban clauses in zero- hour contracts that prevent workers from accepting shifts from more than one employer.

Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said: “Under David Cameron’s Government we’ve seen a rising tide of insecurity.

“Zero-hour contracts, which were once a niche and marginal concept, have become the norm in parts of our economy as families have been hit by the cost of living crisis.

“The Tory-led Government has watered down people’s rights at work and have failed to match Labour’s plans to outlaw zero-hours contracts where they exploit people.”