Employment Security (Young People)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 28th March 2019.

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Photo of Iain Gray Iain Gray Labour

7. To ask the Scottish Government how it plans to monitor the number of young people in precarious, temporary and zero-hours work. (S5O-03074)

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

We take the challenges that face those who are on exploitative zero-hours contracts seriously and we want to understand better how prevalent the contracts are among young people. We will continue to monitor that through the information that is made available by the Office for National Statistics, and we are in discussions to ensure that the information is as robust as possible for young people in Scotland.

Photo of Iain Gray Iain Gray Labour

Once the minister has that information, will the Government stop counting zero-hours contracts as a positive destination for young people? They are not a positive destination; they are a form of exploitation.

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

I am responding seriously to a serious request from the Education and Skills Committee about whether we can understand better the prevalence of zero-hours contracts in Scotland. We should celebrate the fact that record levels of young people are in positive destinations. I would love the Labour Party to welcome that. Once we have the information, we will lay it out.

It is interesting that the Labour Party continues to focus on the counting of the contracts, when what we should do is deal with them head on as a challenge in our economy. Such contracts are governed by employment law but, when Mr Gray was a member of the Smith commission, he opposed the devolution of employment law, which would have allowed us to tackle the challenge adequately. That is Mr Gray’s record, but we will get on with delivering for young people in Scotland.