Tag Archives: employment

Yay! Now we can really fuck over the poor!

The Tory’s desire to screw employees is really gathering momentum. Not only are they making it fair to essentially discriminate, harass and otherwise behave badly towards employees with less than 2 year’s service, they are now charging employees to take their employers to court on day 731.

Now, I would be fine. If I had put up with the bullying or sexual harassment or whatever for 2 years, I could pay the £250 to lodge a claim and the £1,000 to have it heard in front of a tribunal. But I doubt anyone working on minimum wage could. I mean, it’s probably a moot point because they’d be fired on day 729 before their rights kicked in just so the employer wouldn’t have to deal with it, but still.

The unions have pointed out that as many tribunals for unfair dismissal also contain an element of discrimination claims in them, which can be lodged from day 1 with an employer, this will affect very very few claims. Which is both good and bad. Because now employees who are treated badly are going to be looking to make a discrimination connection to be able to make a free and timely claim, and this means our employers may be called more racist, sexist and bigoted than they really are.

A lose/lose situation all round then. Thanks Tories!

Back to reality with a thump-ing large debt

Wow, two months, no post? I can only blame my job. This Working Girl has to work, you know!

So, two things have been floating about the internet that have caught my eye and I think I see a link. Graduate Prospects has published research (well, PR driven research, I guess) that shows graduates’ salary expectations are falling wide of the mark. (I’m trying hard to find a direct link to the research but failing, so if you can help, please do!)

According to the press release, a sixth of graduates think that they’ll earn £100,000 by the time they are 30. The reality: 77% of graduates from 2000-2010 earn less than £30,000.

Now, I don’t know what the split of those years are – this might be dominated by those that graduated less than 3 years ago (and probably is as most don’t stay interested in graduate salaries after that). Those graduating in 2001-2003 who might have hit 30 recently may be rolling in dough. The 7% who said they earn more than £45,000 might be counting the entire rewards package – and 7% could be so low because hey, if you’re earning more than £45,000, why the hell would you waste your time taking a poxy survey on what you earn? You have a job to do, dammit!

But I digress with my nit-picking of the research, and without seeing the full methodology I’m going to have to bumble around in the dark, making wild statements: getting a degree right now is really kinda dumb.

Lemme explain. You rack up £27,000 of debt, which has to be repaid if you earn over £15,000. The average salary of a graduate right now is around £18,000, I believe – which is lower than all those ‘graduate employers’ surveys that do the round like this one from High Fliers. Just because you are a graduate, it does not mean you automatically get a job on a graduate scheme. I didn’t.

Starting on £18,000 at 21/22 years old, maybe moving jobs or getting a pay raise to £21,000 after 2-3 years and then up another £2,000 in another 2-3 years etc – this makes about £27,000 or so a year by the time you are 30.  This seems like a fairly familiar and possibly generous salary to most of my social circle.

But you went into uni expecting to earn more than your average school leaver, and that there would be enough jobs for you and people would fall at your feet at your three years of wisdom gained by cramming for exams, trying to get into your neighbours pants and getting hammered on 20p vodka shots. So how come, according to High Fliers, that 25% of grad jobs have gone to those who deferred or by those who have work experience with that company?

And how come, according to Graduate Fog, that SMEs (the UK leading group of employers, by the way) are now giving away grad jobs to school leavers? It might have something to do with the sentence:

“A 2:1 doesn’t guarantee a motivated candidate who will stay with your organisation.”

Two things may be at fault here: apparently a 2:1 means you expect to earn mega-bucks by the time you are 30 and the top recruiters are PWC, Deloitte, KPMG, Teach First and the Army. Teach First and the Army have built in time periods so you can leave, and I think I know one person who stayed with a Big 4 firm after completing their grad scheme, as everyone else just hated them.

So grads don’t show loyalty to shitty employers and they expect to earn a lot. Two reasons that hiring a school leaver and training them up seems like a better way of keeping knowledge and talent in your team.

The bottom line: going to uni is a great thing. It opens your eyes to adulthood, a different way of life, different cultures and mindsets and allows you to have fun and meet lifelong friends. But it doesn’t guarantee a career.  I think the degree is becoming devalued after market saturation of the last decade – and I think sometimes the more career savvy of teenagers should be looking at getting on the career track at 18 and getting qualifications as they work.

Your degree might be worth £540,000

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) released research (well, data analysed from the past 10 years of ONS information) that shows that graduates earn more than non-graduates. According to them, the highest average wage a non-degree earner receives is £19,400 while the highest average wage for a graduate is £34,500, and the average difference is £12,000 a year.

That’s about £5400,00 over a lifetime of working, assuming you begin work at 20 (I split the difference between 18 and 22) and end work at 65. This goes higher than the old saying that a graduate earns £400,000 in their lifetime, a ‘fact’ I question, and completely blows the PwC research that you may earn £160,000 more as a grad out of the water.

So what in the hey? Well, it’s a bit tricky this one. Remember in a previous post I mentioned that doctors and dentists can earn over £340,000 the average wage, while those with an arts degree may earn less than £3,000 more (and get to pay back students debt)? Well, this new research doesn’t look at sectors to see what’s rising and what’s not – so those doctors throw the numbers out of whack, rather than say comparing people with a degree and without a degree in the same field in roughly the same job. And it doesn’t take into account the gross rise in wages, specifically financial wages, in the boom years before the recession.

Add to that the fact that the recession hit the lowest earners (50% have no qualifications higher than GCSE level according to the Research Foundation) harder, this is beginning to show not a reason to get a degree but more the gross salary discrepancy between the haves and have nots. Which our lovely Mr. Clegg addressed in his social mobility speech that so terribly backfired on him this week.

Personally, I think it is good that if you invest money in a degree, then you should be able to earn that money back and then some – it’s a nice perk. But what I don’t agree with is the idea that you may go to Uni purely to earn more money, or that just by going to Uni, you will earn more money. I believe that anyone who is better at my job than me should earn more than me, regardless of if they finished GCSEs or not – because my education doesn’t give me a privilege, nor should it be a privilege – education is a right.

No rights – no extra mile

What the shit, Vince Cable? Why have you turned to the Dark Side? Not content with seeing Murdoch get his grubby hands over the whole of Sky, Vince has now confirmed that businesses with less than 10 employees are exempt from giving flexible working hours and the right to train to those staff. What’s next, not giving maternity or paternity leave? I know some ‘leaders’ are pushing to not employ women that might be fertile.

Look, I get it. I get that when you are in a small business, regulation and employee rights can cause you stress and in some cases, prevent you from doing business. On the other hand, SUCK IT UP. You run a business, you have to think of the people who are helping you to succeed in that business. It’s a bit like when you here large companies call their people ‘their greatest asset’ like they are a chair or something – but fundamentally, it’s true. People are the business, not the infrastructure, or the tech or even the documents. People are the ones with the knowledge and the committment to doing that company’s aims.

So the idea that you won’t train the people that do your work, or you won’t give them the ability to pick their child up from school, or even, if the Tories/FSB get their way, not giving parents time to bond with their child and set it up for life, is pretty much shooting yourself in the foot. Because these people, with their knowledge and expertise and experience, will leave. And go to another place that gives them these rights.

Well, in theory. The issue is that with huge unemployment, people may be too scared to move. It might be easy to find people to take their place. At the very least, you may get younger people with no kids and no plans for kids, although they might need some of that training you’re refusing to give.

It just makes no long term sense. To get the best from people, to gain their loyalty and trust, to get them to go that extra mile, you have to treat them with respect and acknowledge that they have rights. Without this, your turnover is going to be higher and you’ll get people who do the bare minimum, because if you aren’t giving them anything above a salary, they won’t give you anything extra either. And that’s just plain stupid. A bit like these plans.

Wolf at the Door

Alison Wolf has published her report into further education and it’s pretty refreshing. Not only does she criticise FE institutions for piling on a load of qualifications that don’t mean anything in real ‘job’ terms because they get paid by how many qualifications they put students through, she also focuses on apprenticeships and how useful they can be to both employer and teenager.

There’s a couple of things that seem a bit odd – the removal of the work experience requirement between the ages of 14 and 16 because of lack of placements appears to me to have another solution – make businesses offer placements – and asking kids of 14 to make the life-altering choice of whether they continue in academia or go to a technical school is quite pressured. Who the hell knows what they want at 14? What if they haven’t been taught the thing that they might be amazing at, like philosophy or psychology? Do they risk being labeled a thicko if they choose the technical school because they want to be a social worker? And isn’t academia kinda about academia rather than getting a job?

But these are essentially subjective questions. Each teenager is going to be different, and I like that she has recommended that people can go to the higher education they felt they missed out on later in life if they change their mind.

I also agree that English and Maths should be studied for as long as possible – but probably not in an academic way. English and Maths GCSE are, quite frankly, of no real use in the ‘real world’ – yes, reading is awesome and should be encouraged, and yes, ratios and fractions are handy for simple things like cooking, but not many people need algebra in their daily routine. Do you need to know about Sine and Cosine in your day job? I know that I use some stuff I learned in English GCSE in my day job, but I work in communications and I need to know about language – and even I don’t say Caesura, I say pause in the speech, because that’s more understandable.

What they should be taught, as these are life skills, are mental arithmatic – how to calculate the tip on a bill, what it means if you’re getting something for 20% off – and spelling and grammar, because if one more person uses ‘you’re’ instead of ‘your’, I might flip out. Spelling and grammar not only gives others a better impression of you, they make what you say more understandable, and they create less work for me! I think grammar should be compulsory until they can write an essay using the correct forms of its and it’s.

But I digress, for I  am a bit crazy about grammar. Sorting out the technical and vocational further education in this country seems emminently sensible, as we need highly skilled plumbers, electricians, engineers, carpenters and metalworkers. We also need social workers, nurses, teaching assistants and hairdressers. And teenagers need jobs. It makes sense to give young people the skills they need to supply us with services we need, because that’s how the world works. They get paid, we get nice hair and cupboards, and thus the world keeps turning. Academia is not for everyone – I bloody hated it, apart from the leisure time in which to drink, but what I wanted to do wasn’t technical or a vocation, so off I had to go to Uni.

I just really hope this doesn’t lead to a whole bunch of Tories like this one, sniggering about how they don’t need the French of Moliere, they need the French of business. What a fucking wanker.

All change

Apparently we are going to learn about the fate of the Comms Team today at my council – although I won’t work here for much longer as my last day is Friday.  People are noticeably nervous about their roles, and who can blame them with all these stories about council redundancies.

While I think that yes, we need to streamline some of the bloated mess that a lot of councils have grown to, I really think that the government is naive in thinking that they will automatically reduce the management. Most places are looking at closing libraries and other frontline services and reducing free services (such as free swims) for kids and the elderly. This means frontline redundancies – you know the people who collect the litter and look after your parents in a care home. Gone. They weren’t paid very much to begin with and management (including our management) have decided they like being senior managers with a fat salary too much to give it up.

This is really a management fail. And this kind of thing happens in most places, except I do think that the private sector tends to axe management more readily as they have shareholders to answer to. Councils don’t tend to answer to anyone – if you can’t afford it, you have to accept council services rather than go elsewhere.

The government fail is really a system fail – and damn, I hate saying that as blaming the Tories is my new favourite hobby.  Those who get more funding will be adversely affected when the funding goes. Those not needing funding can’t have any money taken away from them as that’s what they earn from Council Tax and paid-for services. So while it’s vastly unfair that Richmond is cutting 4% of their budget and my council is cutting 8.9%, the only way for us to even it up is to make them stop charging for services or for us to start. Guess which will happen.

Anyway, we learn what will happen at 2pm. I’m sure I’ll do an update as I have a feeling most Comms Teams will be facing similar issues if they work in the public sector.

729 days of work then fired

Apparently (I say apparently as I found this in the Daily Mail) Cameron is including something a wee bit weird in his ‘Employer’s Charter’ for businesses: the ability to sack people for two years without fear of an unfair dismissal claim.  I say it’s weird because it’s also pretty much redundant for the majority of people.

As it stands, you generally have to have one year of work with an employer under your belt before you take them to an Employment Tribunal. However, you don’t need this if you have been dismissed for an ‘automatically unfair reason’. As Directgov states:

“If your employer dismisses you for exercising or trying to exercise one of your statutory (legal) employment rights you will have been automatically unfairly dismissed.

An employees statutory employment rights include a right to:

  • a written statement of employment particulars
  • an itemised pay statement
  • a minimum notice period
  • maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • time off for antenatal care
  • parental leave
  • time off for dependants
  • the right to request flexible working arrangements
  • not to be discriminated against because of your gender, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age
  • guaranteed pay when work is not available for you
  • time off for public duties (eg jury service)
  • protection against unlawful deductions from wages
  • remuneration during suspension on medical grounds
  • refusing to do shop or betting work on a Sunday
  • making a public interest disclosure or ‘blowing the whistle’ “

That’s quite the list. So why am I making a fuss if this doesn’t seem to affect the majority of people?

Well, what’s interesting about Cameron’s move is the timing: unfair dismissal through being chosen for redundancy, in the middle of industrial disputes and  for trade union reasons will all now be covered by this proposed time extension. So if you even have a nice employer, they can still fire you for being on strike if you have spent 729 days in their company.  If you have spent 729 days with Company A and you join a union, they can fire you and you will not be allowed to say how petty and unfair that is in court. No money, no clearing of your reputation, just fired.

I personally believe that you should be able to take your employer to court from day one. Speaking as a victim of workplace bullying, to the extent that it left me fragile and paranoid, I found it hard to stomach that I couldn’t take them to court after I resigned for constructive dismissal – because I’d worked there for eight months.  It’s not fair – and I like fairness.

Oh, and the thing that I really hate about that article? Is the ‘Whitehall source’ who insinuates that without this, taking on younger people would be hellish as they’d be able to be crap, take time off, be ill and generally mooch off you for years. Have these people never heard of performance management or age discrimination? Clearly they’ve heard of generalisations. Idiots.