Better paid full time jobs?

 

This week Labour was in full cry again demanding an end to zero hour contracts and part time jobs. They regularly now denounce employers who offer anything short of a full time job at a decent rate of pay. There is nothing wrong with that an as ambition. Worse is their wish to imply that Conservatives do not want people to have good jobs and decent pay, and their suggestion that somehow we can legislate to ensure that everyone has a full time job at a good rate of pay. They often seem to condemn all part time jobs, without accepting that some part time jobs are good and sought after.

As a Conservative I am as keen or keener than Labour MPs to see more people in work with good jobs and decent pay. We do not, contrary to their suggestion, disagree about the aim. What we disagree about is the means of getting there, and the  complexity of life which means not everyone wants a full time job.

Labour, of course, did not live their current brand on this topic when in government. In thirteen years they did not legislate to ban zero hours contracts or part time work.  More interestingly, some Labour Councils and Trade Unions themselves have used zero hours contracts, cheap interns and part time workers for their own purposes. When I asked the Labour front bench spokesman last week  to assure me no Trade Union or Labour Council – and I might have added Labour MP- uses zero hour contracts, offers of part time where people want full time,  or cheap interns – he was unable to give me that assurance.

Let’s take the issue first of all of part time employment. Some people want part time employment because they have family or caring responsibilities that take up the rest of their time. Some want part time as part of a partial retirement package. Some fortunate people have a series of well paid part time jobs as part of an interesting life based on a portfolio of interests. Some part time work is well paid. If you challenge Labour they have to agree that  not all part time jobs are badly paid and held by people who want and need to work full time but cannot get such employment.

If we then narrow down the issue to the harder cases, I accept that some people have lower paid part time jobs who would like better paid and full time employment. Sometimes starting off with an employer part time enables you to work your way up to a better paid and fuller time job. If the poorly paid part time job is a passing phase, a  step to a better job, it may be part of a necessary process. A poorly paid part time job can be a better step towards a decent job than staying on the dole. Under new rules it should also always be better to take such a job financially. All political parties accept some element of public subsidy to poorly paid employment through the benefit and tax credit system.  The benefit system has put perverse incentives in place in the past discouraging fuller time employment.

If we look  at zero hours contracts, again there are bad ones and good ones. Some taxi drivers belong to a  marketing company or central business which gets them jobs. They wish to work the hours that suit them, and only earn when they are out and about collecting fares. The marketing company could probably not afford to put them all on a full time salary, and would have difficulty rostering them and making some work late shifts or very early shifts. The earn as you work approach can solve the phasing of taxi availability and  gives the driver more control over when he works. Should this be banned? The issue with zero hour contracts is one of contractual power. If it is a single employer, and they are bad at the  number of hours they allow you to work, but insist on your availability, that may be a very bad deal. Surely then anyone in such a position will be spending time trying to get a better job as soon as possible. It is quite difficult defining in law bad contracts which we ban, whilst not denying flexible contracts which both parties willingly enter.

The issue of interns and work experience is even more difficult. Increasingly young people need to show they have done something like this to improve their chances of a job offer. The system can be open to abuse, if an employer expects too much of a work experience person or intern and pays them little or  nothing. The system also favours young people with good family connections who may get the better offers from family contacts. How do you regulate that to allow sensible work experience, to avoid exploitation, and to level the playing field for those without family keys to golden doors?

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93 Comments

  1. Posted February 8, 2014 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    their suggestion that somehow we can legislate to ensure that everyone has a full time job at a good rate of pay.

    That’s right you can’t legislate. Even if you did it wouldn’t do any good. Yes, you are right too that some workers would prefer part time. I’d add that some workers who are approaching retirement age don’t want full time either but the choice they have is full time or nothing. It would make more sense to allow people the option of working less as they grow older instead of having to formally retire and do nothing.

    So, if not by legislation, how can these things be achieved? Its by adjusting the levers of the economy to create the conditions that people have more bargaining power in the economy. If anyone wants to work full time, and even with a bit of overtime added, then its in the interests of everyone to allow them to do that. Similarly with those who have family responsibilities. If they are only able to work half time then its better for everyone else that they should be able to contribute something rather than nothing.

    Its been done before and it can be done again. Instead we have politicians and economists who are wedded to the notion of NAIRU. That acronym doesn’t often get included in politicians speeches – at least not the ones intended for public consumption!

    • libertarian
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      Peter

      Do you never check anything before you post?

      Every worker has the right to ask for flexible working hours

      https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working/overview

      • Posted February 9, 2014 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure how this relates to the point I was making. I’m agreeing with Mr Redwood that you can’t legislate to give workers “a full time job at a decent rate of pay”

        Neither can you legislate to give employees ‘flexitime’. If an employer doesn’t want it, it doesn’t look too difficult, according to your link, to come up with a reason for why it shouldn’t happen.

        • libertarian
          Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

          You wrote and I quote

          “The choice they have is full time or nothing”

          I gave you a link which showed it isn’t. Its really not difficult

          • Posted February 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

            Flexitime doesn’t necessarily mean part-time. And, yes, you are right, anyone can ask for flexitime. They can ask for anything they like but asking is one thing, getting is another.
            Ultimately, questions of wages and salaries, hours and conditions, which would include employee choice on the flexibility of hours , are much more determined by the state of the employment market than any government legislation.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    The best way is to have easy hire and fire and free contracts between employer and employee. Lawyers and the law generally just damages the position for all, but the lawyers. This is killing jobs and destroying growth.

    UK courts and tribunals make absurdly high awards to people for the most trivial matters, mainly one assumes because this drums up more business for the profession and keeps the show on the road for Lawyers. Far more compensation often for virtual nothing of any substance, than others might get for losing a limb or an eye.

    If the employee is any good he can clearly get another job why should he be compensated at all other than for a month or so of wages? This compensation culture has encourage people who actually make a profession of looking for compensation, being deliberately difficult and looking for slights and problems at every turn. This is not very good for worker cooperation causing huge stresses and diverting huge amounts of management time to non productive activity.

    You say “Under new rules it should also always be better to take such a job financially.”

    It still very often does not. Travel to work is not tax allowable (other than for MPs who often get it refunded on expenses tax free), nor is business clothing usually, nor child care, plus working gives you far less time to shop more efficiently, go to the dentist or doctors at your convenience, or do you own repairs/decoration, look after your children, collect fire wood, barter or similar.

    Not all workplaces are like the House of Commons with hugely subsidised restaurants, bars and free creches.

    Commuting might cost you up to £10,000 PA with trains, tubes and parking and still they might go on strike for a few days if Bob Crow feels like a bit more pay at the expense of the commuters. Or you might need to run a car, paying Cameron’s new higher insurance rates for woman perhaps Insurance tax and an expensive VED tax. Perhaps a thousand pounds in parking charges and the odd bus lane or box junction fine you did notice. Plus 20% VAT on you car and car repairs and 120% tax on your fuel.

    The difference between benefits and wages+in work benefits is rather too small especially for anyone with children and high housing costs.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      The best way is to have easy hire and fire and free contracts between employer and employee.

      That only benefits the employer, not the employee. As a result it will just make the current problems worse because they’ve been caused by employees not having enough bargaining power.

      UK courts and tribunals make absurdly high awards to people for the most trivial matters

      Well victims of harassment and discrimination often suffer great losses because they often find it difficult to get another job. So the high awards are justified.

      If the employee is any good he can clearly get another job why should he be compensated at all other than for a month or so of wages?

      Because there’s no guarantee that they will get another job and your system will allow employers to abuse their employees without suffering any real penalties. Bad employers need to be punished to discourage them from abusing their staff.

      This is not very good for worker cooperation causing huge stresses and diverting huge amounts of management time to non productive activity.

      Well if the management don’t abuse their staff they won’t have anything to worry about.

      The difference between benefits and wages+in work benefits is rather too small especially for anyone with children and high housing costs.

      As you can claim housing benefit while in employment high housing costs aren’t usually a problem.

    • Posted February 9, 2014 at 2:36 am | Permalink

      easy hire and fire and free contracts between employer and employee.

      I don’t know how they can be any easier. What rights do employees currently have which you suggest can be dispensed with?

      • libertarian
        Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        Here’s a list to some of the major legislation offering employee protection.

        There are lots lots more

        http://businesscasestudies.co.uk/business-theory/people/employment-legislation.html#axzz2sriTIeCY

        • Posted February 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

          So you’d be quite happy to repeal all Acts of Parliament relating to sexual and racial discrimination? There’d be no 48 hour maximum week? No Trades Unions would be allowed? Even if workers have worked for 20 years, instead of the current 2 years, in a particular job they could be fired at a moments notice with no compensation?

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Trust.
    The government of all stripes finds that word very hard. We need to regulate, to improve, to control everyone because we cannot trust them. (Some ed)Employers are all in it to screw the workers.(Some ed) Rich people are there because they have fiddled other people’s salaries. (Some ed)Politicians are all in it for their expenses. (Some ed)Doctors are in it for the money.(some ed) Teachers are incompetent. etc
    So, with a government quango to oversee it, everything in the garden is lovely because we know best. Like on the Somerset levels.

  4. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    A very good, well-balanced article, and no sensible person could disagree.

    • Posted February 10, 2014 at 3:13 am | Permalink

      You may not disagree but what about John Redwood’s question?

      ” How do you regulate that to allow sensible work experience, to avoid exploitation, and to level the playing field for those without family keys to golden doors?”

      We can agree that we’d like to see better opportunities for all but just how can this be done? That’s where there’s going to be disagreements.

  5. Andyvan
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    One reason for so many part time jobs is that employing anyone full time is now so regulated and expensive that it is frequently more rational to take on 2 part time workers than 1 full time. Yet another consequence of stupid and unnecessary bureaucratic interference.

    • libertarian
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      Andy I normally agree with all your posts but youre actually incorrect on this one

      Part time workers have exactly the same rights as full time workers. From an employers point of view part time workers are harder to administrate and take up more time. The number of part time jobs as a proportion of the workforce is actually fairly low depending on what you count as part time. I’ve seen some studies that count teachers as part time workers as they have long holidays!!! But if we use a sensible approach and count people that work 25 hours or less per week then less than 10% are part time

    • uanime5
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      One reason for so many part time jobs is that employing anyone full time is now so regulated and expensive that it is frequently more rational to take on 2 part time workers than 1 full time

      How exactly is hiring two part time workers better for the company as you’ll need to do twice as much paperwork? The only advantage I can think of is that you won’t need to give two part timers a lunch break.

  6. Arschloch
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    There is nothing wrong with exposing Nu Lab hypocrisy in this area. They are supposed to be the party of the working man, but they are equally mesmerised by neo liberal economics as you are. Nobody down in Westminster seems to be bright enough to twig on to what uber capitalist Henry Ford practiced. In that if you actually pay the top $ they actually go out and buy things. Could there actually be a link that there is a lack of demand in the economy because neo lib claptrap on “flexible labour markets” and QE means the workers actually do not have the cash to buy the none discretionary goods and in many circumstances stuff just to survive e.g. the proliferation of food banks. Wages being kept low to keep businesses internationally competitive never seems to apply to the bosses.

    Congratulations on a carefully crafted piece but everyone knows where average real earnings are going and what the real reasons so many people are working in their sixties, despite the pensions industry promising an early and prosperous retirement.

    • David Price
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      Congratulations on buying the foreign made car/hifi/TV/white goods over the last 20+ years that raised your standard of living but eventually put your neighbours out of work.

      Or did you think you had no responsibility at all as a consurmer for how things have turned out?

      I wouldn’t say that no responsibility lies with goervnment, economist medlers or even financiers but not all of it does by a long stretch, we have all had a part to play.

      We have all been shortsighted and the next election will be no different with parties playing the politics of envy and offering short term rewards while ignoring or clouding the true long term costs.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    To Labour, of course, employers, landlords, the rich and bankers are always the best enemy. They are the best people to attack in order stoke the destructive & bitter feelings of envy and jealousy that socialists require to garner the votes of the dafter members of the envious public.

    The reasons employers, in the private sector, cannot pay more in general is that if they do they will be under cut in the market by other who pay less or do the work overseas and pay even less still. Then they just go out of business or get taken over. They have little choice but to pay the going rate.

    The fact that in the UK we have expensive religious energy, daft employment laws, an absurd, expensive & unbalanced tribunal and legal system, other mad regulations, dysfuntional & expensive banks (still) and a hugely bloated state sector (taking and largely wasting nearly half of GDP while remunerating staff at 50% more than the private sector) is not exactly helpful either.

    Socialist policies are the main reasons for low pay, not remotely the solutions. It is a shame Cameron has done virtually nothing to row back from them. Indeed he has made it worse with the gender neutral insurance and pension laws, an absurd energy policy and so many other lunacies.

    Why did Cameron bury the sensible Beecroft report? Why bother to waste Beecroft’s time and the money on it, if it is just going to be ditched.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      To Labour, of course, employers, landlords, the rich and bankers are always the best enemy.

      Well they do tend to get rich off the hard work of other people.

      The reasons employers, in the private sector, cannot pay more in general is that if they do they will be under cut in the market by other who pay less or do the work overseas and pay even less still.

      Firstly minimum wage laws prevent businesses being undercut.

      Secondly if companies don’t pay people enough money they’ll have skill shortages, which will make it harder for them to compete.

      Thirdly many jobs can’t be outsourced, such as working in a store.

      So in many cases wages can be increased without the company going bankrupt or jobs being outsourced.

      Socialist policies are the main reasons for low pay, not remotely the solutions.

      Socialists policies like the minimum wage aren’t responsible for low pay, they’re the only things stopping pay going any lower.

    • David Price
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      There is some truth in what you say but I can’t help thinking that pay is low relative to the cost of living and property, bought or rented, is taking a disproportionate amount of peoples incomes. For most people, property doesn’t generate exports, it sucks income and more than likely sends it abroad to foreign and ex-pat owners landlords. So what good is it to the economy experienced by most?

      Energy is not the only overly expensive aspect of living, accomodation and travel are also taxing the incomes of the majority and all need to be addressed.

      Interesting that Labour never sought to address the property issue, instead many of their politicians are extensively invested in property and have no reason to change the situation.

  8. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Don’t ell me about abuse. I have been professionally abused for many years, having the qualifications, experience ,know how, past status of those of 5 times the salary of myself. Nurses in my situation watch whilst clerical staff get NHS pensions and we that have given our all since the 1960’s can’t even get an NHS pension.We have the same responsibilities as Doctors and are not even recognised, we are not even named as we take full consultation lists every day, as it is the Dr’s surgery. I am called a Dr , even though I correct the patients , because they are going to the Dr’s surgery. It is as if I don’t exist and everything I do will be accredited to the Dr.They refuse to acknowledge the medical exams we took as we had to pass School of Nursing exams prior to having state representatives around to be, examined . They down grade all clinical work we have done and say that we are not the best people to do it, then cock everything up and take very large salaries and can’t even do the job. An example of this( and I cannot go into detail for the sake of confidentiality) is a simple clinical procedure which has been working well for many years where the patient was seen immediately , required no waiting and one move, now can take up to 10 referrals(moves) to get it right and the patient suffers waiting to see whether they have a potential cancer and I have to watch, whilst they make excuses and botch it up.Then they make a statement that they are finding the best person for the job!
    I now after all these years am taking home newly qualified pay for giving a life.
    If they cannot give us the respect we deserve what chance have youngsters who have not had the opportunity , to suture lacerated throats, put bones back together resuscitate alone whilst looking after wards as 20 year olds on post op night, work in every type of medicine and surgery taking the responsibility , diagnose and prescribe , take the flack for newly qualified Dr’s.
    We have had to go through a gruelling progress over the years to help everyone and then they stamp on us. I have not got a chip on my shoulder as someone suggested. It is merely the hurt of intolerable professional abuse.
    What is the scope for those professionals following and the poor patients who will have to pay for bluff!

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    As your article today is so unexceptionable for any sensible person, JR, off that topic I wonder whether you have any thoughts about how an “in-out” referendum campaign could be conducted so that the voters made a fully informed decision, when for example it seems that the establishment will close ranks to prevent any discussion of the role of the EU in the Somerset floods? Thanks to the internet we know that there has been some such role, whether it was large or small remains unclear, but it seems to me that its very existence is being deliberately hidden behind a media smokescreen with everything and anything but that particular aspect being discussed in the newspapers and broadcast media. And even in Parliament; surely among all those MPs and peers there must be some who at least suspect that the appalling failure of the Environment Agency in this case may have less to do with the character of its chairman than with EU control or influence over its policies and actions?

    • forthurst
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      “the role of the EU in the Somerset floods?”

      Notwithstanding, I thought we had planning laws in this country. If a farmer wishes to convert his farm into a sanctuary for aquatic fauna, would he not require planning permission; is there not change of use involved? If some other entity had the same ambition, would not the same rule apply?

    • APL
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Denis Cooper: “when for example it seems that the establishment will close ranks to prevent any discussion of the role of the EU in the Somerset floods?”

      Some months ago, Mr Redwood asserted that there isn’t much interest in the EU ‘on the doorstep’, and we can see why, when a disaster happens, and make no mistake this is a disaster, the focus is on the tool (the incompetent EA ) not the motivating force behind the use of the tool.

      The EU gets a free pass, everyone focuses on fixing the tool (the EA) and the result is, the malign influence of the EU continues to grow in the shadows.

      The three political parties would have it thus.

  10. alan jutson
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Agree with much of what you say John.

    Clearly the best paid part time jobs seem to be directorships and the like which only require you to work a few days per month, one person in particular who has been the subject of much discussion over the past few weeks who is in charge of a number of government Quango’s springs to mind here.

    The worst example are those zero hours contracts where so called staff have to be available to work 40 hours or more a week, and thus cannot work elsewhere when other work is available.

    Given all of the good reasons that you have outlined, why does government not allow a far more simple and flexible sign on, sign off situation with regard to unemployment or any other benefits, which would encourage people to work on a temporary short term contract basis when such work is available.

    At present Benefit could be delayed for many weeks just by signing off to do some temporary work for a week, then signing on again.
    Hence people rightly think its not worth the hastle unless a long term contract is available.

    Self employment is another area which has been crucified by successive governments, with all sorts of legislation about status of employment and taxation.
    The simple fact is governments appear not to trust the self employed, even though this is the most common route to setting up a future business, and thus employing other people.

    Government cannot create jobs, but it can foster the climate in which people can create their own.

    Time for some practical thinking !

    • Bob
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      @AJ

      Clearly the best paid part time jobs seem to be directorships and the like which only require you to work a few days per month, one person in particular who has been the subject of much discussion over the past few weeks who is in charge of a number of government Quango’s springs to mind here.

      You’re talking about the chocolate teapot in charge of the EA, right?


      Time for some practical thinking !

      Problem is Alan that our idea of “practical” does not coincide with that of the political classes. They’re more concerned with career options and toeing the line (our host is obviously excluded from that characterisation).

      • alan jutson
        Posted February 9, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        Bob

        “Chocolate tea pot….. ”

        Now what on earth would make you think that ?

        I think there are many, many more than just one !

  11. The PrangWizard
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Given the arguments you have put forward I am surprised you are in favour of and increasing the Minimum Wage. It is a distortion of the market, it keeps people out of work, and in my view has led to the kind of abuse you outline in the final paragraph. We should move back to freedom of contract. Employers should be able to try people out on trial wages they can afford to pay until they get the best. No-one should work for nothing and I would name the National Trust as an employer which I think exploits its status to get people to work for free.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

      Employers should be able to try people out on trial wages they can afford to pay until they get the best.

      Why would an employer need to pay a trial wage that less than minimum wage? What’s to stop employers replacing all their low paid employees with employees on trial wages?

  12. lifelogic
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    You cannot really “level the playing field for those without family keys to golden doors” nor should you try much beyond trying to have a proper, open & fair recruitment process in the state sector. This is where so much of the problem actually lies. Start by looking at the BBC, the Environment Agency and all the similar organisations and look at all the family or political connections there. The state sector needs to be halved at least anyway, so plenty of scope to clear out the dross.

    For the private sector it is up to the owners, if they want to employ other than the best value staff available then more fool them.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Except of course that absurd employment laws stop UK organisations clearing out the poor staff. This must to wonders for the UK competitive advantage. Why would the government want companies to be so hugely handicapped in this way?

      • Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        “Except of course that absurd employment laws stop UK organisations clearing out the poor staff”

        I have the feeling you really don’t know what you are talking about. If staff aren’t performing then, providing the proper process is followed, they can be “cleared out” , as you put it. Even if the proper process isn’t followed there’s very rarely legal compunction for any employer to reinstate a sacked employee.

        However, if you know of some laws that I don’t, I’d be interested to learn the details .

  13. Richard1
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    What this shows is the extent to which the unions, especially public sector unions, dominate and control the Labour Party. It is absurd for politicians to seek to intervene to prevent free agents undertaking work as they wish. Almost everybody who is self employed in the service sector is effectively on a ‘zero hours’ contract. Part time work is a huge boon for those with family or other responsibilities, or those who, increasingly have more than one line of work. This demonstrates how lacking in experience of the world outside the public sector are Labour politicians, and how much their tune is set by the public sector unions.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Exactly

  14. JoolsB
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Ever the hypocrites, Labour actively encouraged part time work and reliance on benefits with their working tax credits and child tax credits. There are many people out there working the required amount of hours needed to get their pay packets topped up by the taxpayer, sometimes by tens of thousands of pounds knowing that if they work longer hours they lose their tax credits so they don’t bother.

    Get rid of tax credits and watch the number of full time jobs go up.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      Ever the hypocrites, Labour actively encouraged part time work and reliance on benefits with their working tax credits and child tax credits.

      You can’t claim tax credits if you work less than 30 hours per week, so the vast majority of part timers don’t get them.

      There are many people out there working the required amount of hours needed to get their pay packets topped up by the taxpayer, sometimes by tens of thousands of pounds knowing that if they work longer hours they lose their tax credits so they don’t bother.

      Care to name some circumstances where people are working 30 hours per week to get tax credits but will be worse off it they work more hours.

      Get rid of tax credits and watch the number of full time jobs go up.

      How is this going to work as the vast majority of part timers can’t claim tax credits?

  15. acorn
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    BTW JR, where did you get the idea that “Dredge the Loddon to create more capacity to take water away”; expert in hydraulics now are we? Away to where? At a higher flow rate down to the next restriction downstream causing flooding there? If dredging reduces the flow rate the upstream sediment, gravel in a flood situation, will drop out of the water and fill up your dredge and likely change the course of the river to where you don’t want it to go.

    • Posted February 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Dredging is always futile in the sense that the bits of rivers or harbours that are dredged ultimately fill in again. However, if the economic benefits derived from dredgeing over the years exceed the costs, then it ‘s worthwhile, isn’t it?

      • acorn
        Posted February 8, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes it is Ralph. Southampton Port is spending millions on dredging so that two 16,000 TEU container ships can pass each other in the channel. We had the Marco Polo (16kTEU) in dock recently.

        Maersk Line has 20 by 18,000 TEU Triple-E container ships on order from Korea. These ships will have a draught of 14.5 metres. Southampton is 12.6 metres.

        The sad bit is that my engineer mates dockside, tell me that for every five containers that come in to Southampton, one goes out with export earning goods in it; one with scrap metal in it; one with scrap paper in it and two are empty.

        • Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

          “The sad bit is …..that for every five containers …. one goes out with export earning goods in it; one with scrap metal in it; one with scrap paper in it and two are empty.”

          That’s not sad. Its a good thing that low value bulky items are imported and exports are high value less bulky items or even products which don’t need a container. According to Wiki the UK trade imbalance is about 3.8% which really isn’t any problem and shouldn’t be used as an excuse for excess unemployment.

          The UK budget deficit which is much more closely linked to the trade deficit than is usually acknowledged is 3.3%

          On the other hand Germany runs a surplus in both trade and government budget. (7% and 6.1%).

          I’m just wondering if the Germans are really being as smart as they think they are by having such an imbalance. The proceeds get taxed away and exports are, after all, a net cost to any economy.

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted February 8, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        I live in the Fens. We have big drains – 100 foot, 40 foot – which carry the water to the coast. We also have smaller dykes that carry the water off the fields. The water is moved round by strong pumps. The sea is kept out by sluices. It works.
        If the drains are blocked, if the sluices fail, if the dykes are not cleaned out regularly, if the pumps stop for any reason, then we will flood and the land will return to being a wetland.
        Vermuyden and the people who introduced steam pumps in the 19th century were not rocket scientists! But the land is (for the time being) dry. Please God the Greenies do not wreck it with their mad ideas about climate change.

    • David Price
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      In answer to your question where – the Loddon is a natural drain that transfers water from parts of Hampshire and Berkshire into the Thames near Wargrave.

      If long term water and river management has led to settlements being established why should that activity be stopped without warning or consultation? For example, I do not recall any public consultations by the EA regarding the impacts of suspending dredging of the Loddon.

      I do not defend developments on low lying flood plains but why is the situation being actively made worse?

  16. oldtimer
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Labour`s position on this, as on so many other issues they raise, owes more to hypocrisy, political points scoring and positioning than to common sense. It is also deeply rooted in their belief they they are entitled to, and must, interfere in just about every aspect of lefe that the rest of us is trying to live. They think that they know best.

    As you rightly point out, some people want or need and like part time jobs because that is what suits their particular circumstances. Some people want or need and like full time jobs because that is what suits their particular circumstances.

    It is best left to the market in jobs to sort out the ever changing patterns of how people are hired and rewarded. Political interference can be guaranteed to screw it up – but that is Labour`s special subject and special talent. It screws things up time and time again.

  17. John E
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    The value of these internships can be misleading. I know of businesses that run two separate processes: one round to entertain the children of clients and the well connected, and then another for the bright kids that are the real candidates.

  18. Bert Young
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I have always recommended ” work experience ” to undergraduates when asked by bright young individuals during the course of their academic education . Facing the reality world ahead of them is a daunting condition especially when the subjects they have studied seem somewhat remote ; employers want to see appropriate evidence and keenness before making an employment contract . If this ” work experience ” is offered at a discounted rate , or on an ” intern ” basis , so be it . Results show that those who take this route are more likely to obtain a job in their target field than those who do not . I have never witnessed ” bias ” or favouritism in this process and I am not aware of employers taking advantage .

  19. Mark B
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    John Redwood MP said;
    “All political parties accept some element of public subsidy to poorly paid employment through the benefit and tax credit system.”

    I do not believe that you should be taxing people with the intention of giving to others, so you can a) feel better, and b) been seen to be doing something whilst ignoring the root causes.

    Yes, low taxation is a key benefit to those on low incomes. People who earn say, less that £20K a year, should be on zero tax and lower employee NIC and especially, lower or zero employers NIC.

    When people have more in their pockets, and work is seen as a far better prospect that life on the dole, we can then begin to see fewer people reliant on taxpayer funded welfare.

    We also need to tackle other issues which drive down wages and keep people in poverty.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Rather than increasing the minimum wage the government should be concentrating on removing income tax and NICs from earning up to the minimum wage. This should include employers’ NICs. Until this is done they shouldn’t be thinking about reductions for the next £5k of earnings up to £20k

  20. Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    The belief that everyone wants a full time job is totally wrong.
    Both my married daughters work part time, and had trouble finding suitable part-time employment as their employers wanted them to work full time. My elder daughter likes it because she can get the housework done and so is free evenings and weekends and can go out with her husband; my younger daughter likes it because, with flexitime, she can have some time off if necessary to look after our 5yr old grandson should emergencies (like teachers’ strikes) occur. Incidentally, the school expects all mothers to come and help out for a couple of hours a week, difficult for full-time working mothers, and something which should not be necessary in a state school.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 1:09 am | Permalink

      If parents are fined for taking their children out of school during term time, then should the teaching unions not also be subject to the same sanctions for achieving the same result if their members choose to deny children their right to an education because of strike action?

  21. Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I don’t think the state – nor anyone else – should have the right to dictate or interfere with a private arrangement between 2 parties.

    Socialists don’t mean to cause hardship; they don’t mean to increase the gap between rich and poor; but they do.

    Socialism is cruel and hard and causes unemployment and unhappiness.

    Look at France.

  22. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    A very well explained and argued post.

    Perhaps, as a way to finding a happy medium, there should be a complementary post written from the point of view of the employer as to what is wanted of the employee.

    And there is, of course, the issue of supply and demand, which takes us to the impact of migrant labour, the EU and so on.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Lots of employees and far fewer employers, lost of tenants and fewer landlords so politically politicians are always biased to kick the few. In fact the things politicians actually think help tenants and employees usually have the completely opposite effect anyway. Damage the landlord you get fewer rental properties on offer and the employer fewer jobs.

  23. Horatio McSherry
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    John, another excellent article (along with your reply to the EA). The hypocricy of labour is plain to see for anyone who cares to think for a moment. Surely if you want to raise the wages of low paid workers (who Labour pretend to represent) then the worst thing you can do is flood the country with millions of third world immigrants who will work for virtually nothing? Also, I’ve never agreed with the minimum (and now living) wage; not because I’m a heartless, money-grabbing capitalist, but because if your labour isn’t worth the minimum wage then the jobs whose pay has to be increased to meet the minimum wage won’t be offered in the first place. And for those who say it’s immoral to offer such terrible wages, I agree to some point, but that isn’t an argument for a minimum wage, it’s an argument to raise the level at which tax is first paid. (You also have the option not to take such an awful paying job).

  24. libertarian
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    As an expert in the field of employment I’ve been saying this for years. The political parties and media have been wrong on the whole thing.

    1) More than 72% of all new jobs in the private sector created in the last 2 years are full time permanent pay a living wage or more

    2) Zero hour contracts have existed for more than 100 years they just weren’t called that. Its what enables students to get holiday jobs and people to earn pin money where THEY decide. No one is forced to take a zero hour contract. There are plenty of full time opportunities. Currently less than 1% of jobs are zero hour contracts

    3) Flexible working is a legal right and can be requested by an employee. The legislation allows for people to request part time, zero hour or flexible working. This law was put in place by EU/Labour government https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working/overview

    If you know a young person looking for work then tell them NOT to bother with internships or work experience, both are totally pointless. The single easiest thing is to take ANY paid job and gain REAL work experience. Oh and I know many small employers who when faced with a new starter straight out of college are more interested in their attendance certificate than any so called qualification they got. An easy and effective way of gaining real work experience that is valued by employers is to do temporary work. The benefit of this is that its far easier to get, gains you experience enables you to assess whether the job/career/employer is right for you and if not you can leave whenever you want without damaging future employment prospects

    I’m really sick and tired of politicians and their apparatchiks, class keyboard warriors and other political point scorers talking abject nonsense about the job market.

    The issues that really need addressing are:

    Secondary education is no longer fit for purpose and needs a massive overhaul

    College education is in some new fields of technology and other STEM vocations non existent

    There are too many people studying too many useless degrees at university

    We have a massive skills shortage but we also have a massive work attitude problem too.

    Careers advice in school, college and University is not fit for purpose in most cases.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Indeed all very true.

      Certainly as you say “There are too many people studying too many useless degrees at university.” About 80% of them I estimate have little utility. Not only that but there are people studying absurdities at all levels. They may even be good for careers or earning money but only because absurd legislation, complex tax laws, employments laws, EU laws and idiotic rules force people to use these parasites.

      Energy performance certificates are a good example no one ever wants to see them and they tell you nothing you cannot see for yourself.
      PV roof panel experts, far too many lawyers and tax experts, wind energy subsidy experts, global warming exaggeration experts, carbon tax experts, planning experts, HR experts, HS train experts, government and EU grant
      experts, EU law experts the list of essentially parasitic activities could go on and on and on.

      Still at least HIP packs went – one good thing Cameron actually did do (almost).

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 1:16 am | Permalink

      Very well put.

    • Arschloch
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      “As an expert in the field of employment”. What you are a clerk in a Job Centre Plus?

      • libertarian
        Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Arschloch

        Nope I’m not a civil servant. Are you disputing my credentials?

    • David Price
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Agree, I had several temporary jobs ranging from working on a chicken farm, general labouring in a plastics factory to warehouseman before graduating and getting a permanent job. Those earlier jobs all helped introduce me to the realities and realistic expectations of working life.

      After a career in technology and engineering I am now trying to contribute back in to STEM awareness and education as a part time activity. For a country that started the industrial revolution with a rich heritage of science and engineering the domain has been allowed to degrade a shocking extent. Not surprising when amazing achievements in STEM research and business go practically unnoticed while the latest antics of a footballer get front page billing and national pride is vested in TV talent shows.

  25. Lifelogic
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I see they have doubled the number of flights to Newquay.

    Planes and car are so much more flexible and so much less vulnerable than trains and HS2 with fixed lines and vulnerable to train unions extortion. Cheaper and more energy efficient often too despite the tax system being hugely sloped against them.

    Is it true repairs at Dawlish were delayed by the Environment Agency for some bird survey or something, it sounds highly likely to me?

  26. Anonymous
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    ‘Decent’ pay.

    That’s relative to the cost of housing and it seems that the cost of housing is in no way related to rates of pay. In fact the government seems determined to keep the pay-to- housing cost ratio out of kilter with HTB.

    If people on good wages can earn enough to pay mortgages but not raise deposits then what does this say about the housing market ?

    Limit the lending multiples (as they once were by a generation better than us) and allow a little time for things to adjust – they soon will.

    Then Mum, Dad and – latterly – Gramps won’t have to graft to afford that first home. What comes after HTB has taken effect ? Sending the kids up chimneys to pay the mortgage ?

    And – yet again – what does importing millions of ‘cheap’ labourers do to wage settlements, conditions and the cost of housing (the factor which determines whether a wage is good or not) ?

    Nowhere is this mentioned in your article. Why not ?

    With an open welfare system in place this situation isn’t even a free market one – it is a state subsidised one and bankruptingly expensive for taxpayers to boot.

    Expect internship and family connections to be used even more widely as those-who-can seek to shield their children from the worst effects of these policies.

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Of course Mum wants a part-time job.

      But we really need a situation where Dad’s wage should be quite enough.

      The other issue is the 16 hour rule. Whereby a single-parent part-time worker maxes out benefit entitlements. So of course part-time work is desirable for some.

      • Anonymous
        Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        And if both parents hadn’t been knocking their socks off in the first place they might not have separated at all.

  27. Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Re interns, governments (Labour and Tory) have been schizophrenic for a long time: imposing minimum wage laws, while allowing interns to work for nothing.

    There is actually a simple solution to this. It’s called the Work Programme. That is, letting employers take on people who would otherwise be unemployed and for a limited period, with the wage paid by the state. That, at least in theory, enables one to adhere to the minimum hourly wage, while giving people work experience.

    The actual Work Programme currently in force is defective in many ways, but I support the basic principle of it.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      The current Work Programme is a 2 year long scheme where the unemployed are sent to a private company which is meant to give them the skill they need to find work. You may be thinking of one of several workfare schemes such as the Mandatory Work Activity, Work Experience scheme, or a Traineeship.

      While workfare would be much better if you were paid minimum wage, rather than just getting jobseeker’s allowance, it will only help people find work if they’re working in an area that will give them useful skills. It also won’t work if there isn’t a surplus of jobs available in the local area.

  28. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    “Full” time (call it 8 hours out of 24 and only during the week in the main) itself is of course really part time (half days would be 4 hours out of 24), so there is no difference in principle.

    And, as discussed here before, “zero hours” means no such thing: rather it means zero committed hours, which is altogether different. Maybe not wonderful but surely better than nothing and hardly compulsory. It basically allows people to get right on and do any work that comes up on pre-agreed terms–what’s wrong with that?

    And as for family connexions, long may they (and it) continue.

    In each case, when looked at from the employer’s point of view, there is nothing to talk about–viz how can an employer pay for longer than he needs or commit to work he cannot be sure he can provide; and why should he not feel more secure hiring somebody, somebody additional maybe, he already knows and perhaps knows very well? Is the employer not to be allowed to act rationally? Is this the way to encourage more of them to come forward??

    • Iain Gill
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      The reality is it should be much easier for both the work and employer to use a freelance model, if that is what both want. There should be no need for a personal service company, or to use an umbrella company. Of course there is something wrong when people are effectively on freelance terms but getting paid less than those with permanent jobs, market forces should enforce the opposite – if they are not there is something wrong.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      Maybe not wonderful but surely better than nothing and hardly compulsory.

      Unless your employer gives you enough hours a week, then you’re getting less than if you were claiming benefits. Anyone working for minimum wage needs to work at least 12 hours per week to be better off in work than on benefits.

      It basically allows people to get right on and do any work that comes up on pre-agreed terms–what’s wrong with that?

      Other than not being allowed to work for other companies if no work turns up.

  29. bigneil
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    “The issue with zero hour contracts is one of contractual power. If it is a single employer, and they are bad at the number of hours they allow you to work, but insist on your availability, that may be a very bad deal.” you mentioned taxi drivers.

    “may” ???? – I get to talk with a few taxi drivers from a local town. They would be gobsmacked at your comment. They have to pay the firm they work for, a set amount each week, never mind what they take in fares. they have to have their taxi MOT’d every 6 month – and it is a lot harder than normal MOTs.
    One driver told me he started at 1oam on a Friday -and “clocked off” from the firm at 4 am the following morning – his taking for 18 hrs? – £100 -and his fuel etc had to come out of that. His hours on the Saturday were the same. They have to work the night shifts to take advantage of the clubs turning out. They also get “runners” who don’t pay and “leg it”, along with the drunk who throws up, which means they have to clean their taxi before getting another fare. Another told me of taking £34 in a full day. If the drivers don’t pay their mortgage – homeless – whereas the foreign freeloaders sit back in their free houses – knowing that their housing will be guaranteed !! How much do you think the taxi drivers around the Somerset levels are taking? – Having to struggle to try and keep a roof over their head – while the freeloaders watch their (taxpayer bought )plasma TV
    It makes me wonder who are the priorities in your party? – the workers who are taxed more and more, without access to tax evading accountants,nor the joy of expenses claims – – or- – the people who come here to bleed us dry and have no intention of making any contribution.

  30. Antisthenes
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    The left as we know practice hypocrisy in the belief that it is a virtue based on the end justifies the means. That is a rather dangerous approach as only too often it debases that which is achieved and the means employed results in not having the outcome that was intended. Labour and the left and other assorted loons have a track record of not understanding the implications of what they aim for as their understanding of the subject is based more on faith than fact. This is highlighted in your article today as it demonstrates that they know nothing much about how society works and why should they it is far to complex so should admit as much and let society through classical liberal free market capitalism decide what is best for that society. Further highlighted is their total lack of understanding of economics they fail to see that controlling a market causes distortions and forces it not to work optimally in this case the labour market. Not letting employers and employees decide between them pay and conditions will in the end result in job losses not gains and as usual the left will hurt those they say they wish to protect the most the poorest. They really are dim wits this recession taught one lesson that they obviously have failed to learn in that there was much less unemployment this time around because workers were much more flexible on wages and conditions. It is perhaps no surprise that the left rarely learn lessons from what has and is happening all around them as mostly what they would learn would debunk the faith they have in their socialist ideology and so like other fundamentalists live permanently in La la land.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 12:14 am | Permalink

      let society through classical liberal free market capitalism decide what is best for that society.

      Why would we want to use a model that decided that employees should have no employment rights, no sick pay, and unsafe working environments to enable companies to make greater profits? What’s best for the market isn’t best for society.

      Further highlighted is their total lack of understanding of economics they fail to see that controlling a market causes distortions and forces it not to work optimally in this case the labour market.

      That’s a funny way to say companies aren’t making as much money as possible because they’re not able to abuse their staff and customers as much as they want to.

      Not letting employers and employees decide between them pay and conditions will in the end result in job losses not gains and as usual the left will hurt those they say they wish to protect the most the poorest.

      Given that the poorest will be most disadvantages in any such negotiations the only people the left are hurting is employers who want to exploit their staff, not the poor.

      They really are dim wits this recession taught one lesson that they obviously have failed to learn in that there was much less unemployment this time around because workers were much more flexible on wages and conditions.

      So instead of very high unemployment we had high unemployment and stagnation. Not sure that was any better.

      It is perhaps no surprise that the left rarely learn lessons from what has and is happening all around them as mostly what they would learn would debunk the faith they have in their socialist ideology and so like other fundamentalists live permanently in La la land.

      It’s worrying that the right hasn’t realised that they’re losing votes because the majority of the population doesn’t like having their working conditions reduced because it’s better for the economy.

      • libertarian
        Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        Uanime5

        Here’s an idea why not start your own business then you can implement all your ideas and show us how well it all works.

        Come on tell me why as its all so easy and obvious you haven’t actually done it

  31. Credible
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    ” …. and to level the playing field for those without family keys to golden doors?”

    Can’t see that happening with this government, it would go against its ethos. Not that the Labour party are paragons of virtue either.

  32. Credible
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    “If we look at zero hours contracts, again there are bad ones and good ones.”

    Perhaps, but increasingly it is a form of exploitation, which suits big business and any government that receives donations from big business.

  33. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I think that the entire work force should be congratulated on pricing itself back into employment. Government should butt out of this process and concentrate on its benefits system, ensuring that work always pays.

    The only type of zero hours contract that I would ban is one that additionally requires that the employee works for nobody else. That’s inequitable – pure and simple.

  34. Bob
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    After all the threats and warnings I receive from the Home Office about the dire consequences of employing illegal immigrants I now read that Conservative Immigration Minister Mark Harper has resigned after employing an illegal immigrant as a cleaner.

    And this from someone who should know better, the immigration minister no less!
    How we take these clowns seriously?

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2554701/BREAKING-NEWS-Immigration-Minister-Mark-Harper-forced-resign-illegally-employing-foreign-cleaner.html#ixzz2skPOBzcL

    Will he be fined £10,000, which is the fine threatened in the warnings I have received from the Home Office?

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      If the political will was there to deal effectively with this farce then the cleaner would never have got near Harper in the first place. None of the main parties are prepared to take the necessary action and we will continue to be fobbed off, gagged, fined for not doing what the government should have done in the first place years ago, and repeatedly lied to.
      Should Harper be fined? No, send the money to Migration Watch instead.

    • APL
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Bob: “which is the fine threatened in the warnings I have received from the Home Office?”

      We appear to be living in some sort of ghastly Kafkaesque novel. The politicians impose open borders on us, to the extent that a court ordering the deportion of a foreigner finds the same fellow in the dock six months later, yet the fault for employing a foreigner falls to the employer.

    • stred
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      This was a good story. Eric Pickes said on Marr today that members of the public should not worry about being fined for making a mistake. However, employers and landlords will be criminally liable and face large fines or even imprisonment.

      I had a look at my Syrian Christian refugee pal’s document last week, as he is worried about what will happen when his tenancy ends. It was a card marked ‘permit’ but it was impossible to tell whether it would be valid or not. He is applying for naturalisation this year and thinks he is going to be approved. I have my doubts, as we are not letting in vital experts in research but allowing anyone from the EU. If he finds himself homeless, I wondered whether to have him as a lodger, as I have spare rooms. But this too may be illegal and anyway would make my house into an unlicensed HMO, with other savage fines under criminal law.

  35. ian wragg
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    What a load of rubbish is talked by Millipede etc. After letting around 3 million more workers into the country it is bound to be difficult to get decent well paid jobs for the less educated and skilled. It is a race to the bottom which is being continued by the coalition.
    Half a million newcomers are coming into the country yearly and about half that amount of educated Brits or retired pensioners are leaving taking their knowledge or money with them. As I have said before, 31 million in the workforce but GDP is still bellow 2008 levels when there was only 29.5n million.
    The cake is smaller with a lot more tucking in and this will continue.
    As a 68 year old engineer on a zero hours contract, I consider myself luck to be able to top up my pension after you have robbed me of at least £5000 p.a. in investment income to bail out the bankers.
    Prepare for opposition John because that’s where its heading.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Ian, I feel for you, I really do. You, like me, played the game according to the rules at that time. Then the Government changes the rules and screwed people like you for doing that which they at first encouraged – ie save for your retirement. Government is a greedy, wasteful monster, that has become simply too big and powerful.

      And some on this site complain about people like you who complain. Sheesh !

  36. Iain Gill
    Posted February 8, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Come on John!
    Nobody out here in the real world believes the political class. We can all see that the political class cares not a jot about jobs when the political class of all the main parties have been printing uncapped intra company work visas for non EC nationals to come here, be taxed significantly less than Brits, in occupations already in oversupply, and allow them to be subcontracted into other companies for far far less than it costs to hire a Brit.
    The whole political class speaks with forked tongue.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 8, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

      Indeed they do.

  37. Posted February 8, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    My single experience of zero hours contracts was imposed not by me but by the employee. She didn’t want the hassle of being self employed so she insisted on a zero hours contract such that, from time to time at my request, she would provide certain professional services. By going the zero hours contract route the responsibility for tax and NI was transferred to my Firm, as was compliance for the arrangement. When politicians discuss in future the availability of such arrangements I do hope they appreciate how useful they can be to both parties particularly when, as in this case, it is a mechanism that benefits the employee.

    • acorn
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      They are also useful in avoiding Statutory Redundancy payments. You “zero down” and you effectively sack an employee for nothing. If we leave the EU and get another right wing government, zero hours contracts will become the norm. Not just in Retail, Hotel, Catering (four hour contracts are the norm) and Education, as now.

      The Dutch have banned them already, and the EU may do the same.

      • libertarian
        Posted February 9, 2014 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

        Acorn

        Zero hour contracts would be a disaster for most businesses. The skill shortages of talented people is already bad enough without employing them on zero hour contracts. Just because something exists in one part of the job market doesn’t mean it is endemic in ALL job markets.

        So you are incorrect they will NOT become the norm.

  38. uanime5
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Worse is their wish to imply that Conservatives do not want people to have good jobs and decent pay

    Well the Conservatives did introduce the apprentice wage so employers could pay less than minimum wage.

    their suggestion that somehow we can legislate to ensure that everyone has a full time job at a good rate of pay.

    Well minimum wage laws can ensure a good rate of pay.

    In thirteen years they did not legislate to ban zero hours contracts or part time work.

    Zero hours contracts have only become more prevalent in recent years, so it’s no surprise that Labour didn’t ban them.

    If we then narrow down the issue to the harder cases, I accept that some people have lower paid part time jobs who would like better paid and full time employment.

    Don’t forget that if you’re not working 30 hours per week you can’t claim tax credits. Though if the government allowed people who work part time to partially claim tax credits that would reduce the problems.

    If we look at zero hours contracts, again there are bad ones and good ones. Some taxi drivers belong to a marketing company or central business which gets them jobs.

    Technically this isn’t a zero hours contract because the taxi driver isn’t an employee of the marketing company. As the taxi driver has to provide their own tools (the taxi) they’re a self-employed contractor the marketing company uses. Taxi companies prefer contractors because they’re not responsible for maintaining the taxis and they don’t have to do any of the tax assessments.

    Also as this isn’t a zero hour contract the taxi driver is free to work for other companies or work by themselves.

    If it is a single employer, and they are bad at the number of hours they allow you to work, but insist on your availability, that may be a very bad deal. Surely then anyone in such a position will be spending time trying to get a better job as soon as possible.

    Due to the current high levels of unemployment and low levels of jobs available it’s often difficult to get another job. Especially if you lack skills or work experience.

    The system can be open to abuse, if an employer expects too much of a work experience person or intern and pays them little or nothing.

    Don’t forget about not hiring anyone because they have a constant stream of people willing to do this job for free. Councils seem to be replacing a lot of paid worker with unpaid volunteers due to several government schemes that force the unemployed to work for free somewhere that has a “community benefit”. Perhaps the law should be changes so that “community benefit” only applies to registered charities.

    How do you regulate that to allow sensible work experience, to avoid exploitation, and to level the playing field for those without family keys to golden doors?

    Make unpaid internships illegal so that they open to more people, rather than only open to young people whose parents can support them while they’re working for free.

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Uni

      Zero Hours contracts have been around for decades.

      Only in recent years has it become public knowledge.

    • Bob
      Posted February 13, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      @uanime5

      Have you ever considered opening a business and creating well paid jobs for others and generating taxable earnings to support others who don’t have jobs?

      Or does that sound too much like hard work?

  39. Posted February 9, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    It has interested me in particular lately: I have one zero-hour contract and one part-time, fitted in around my PhD research, which seems a good arrangement so far. Back before my first degree, I did a little unpaid work experience at university, setting up a web server and similar things, which I think was quite helpful as a starting point.

    It seems Labour would now like to ban some of this. Would that benefit me in any way? I can’t see that happening: perhaps instead of our current flexible arrangement (two of us cutting back a bit, me possibly taking on a bit more) we’d have our hours set in stone. No improvement there for anybody!

    Perhaps a legal guarantee that people with no commitment *from* the employer also have no commitment *to* them would be useful; requiring them to pay something for someone being available to work certain times and ensuring such people remain free to take other work as well. (Adapt minimum wage to give a minimum on-call rate too, and notice periods for change?) As I understand it, Universal Credit will help too, so a week with no earnings doesn’t leave someone worse off for having a job which paid nothing that week than if they had been unemployed, which is good.

  40. behindthefrogs
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    When people are employed on zero hour contracts they must have the same rights to accept or refuse work as their employers have to supply it. Too many people on zero hours contracts arrive to do what they expect to be a full days work only to be sent home with no or very few hours. Similarly if they refuse a few hours work at very little notice, they are informed that they are no longer required.

    There must be a balance between the expectations and commitment of both employer and employee.

  41. a-tracy
    Posted February 10, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    The Labour Party are just hypocrites, I wrote about their encouragement of part-time jobs and part-time working and the other side of encouraging this practise years ago. For every person that wants and needs part-time work you have to find another person to work the hours they don’t want to work, as you say sometimes this person is someone that actually wants full time work but the other member of staff is bed-blocking the full time position, maybe they are over retirement age and want to carry on but not full time, perhaps they are in a position where they came into an inheritance and can cut their hours but they don’t want to leave completely, this decision in many instances was taken out of employers hands by the then Labour governments legislation on part-time working obligations and encouragement to pursue this model. Then there is less employer’s NI to pay and although you often end up with two lower committed employees (one constantly looking for another full time place and one semi-retired) you are stuck with under-productivity and performance and a lack of gusto.
    I am sick and tired of employers being blamed for these decisions by Labour when their working tax credit model encouraged working parents to cut their hours to 16 or 25 per week depending on the number of children and their marital status and they wouldn’t be worse off as a family by getting tax credits that was their political choice.

    I think all internship positions should be minimum wage for an apprentice worker full stop. Zero hours workers are fine as long as they have freedom to work for any employer they want to as self-employed workers do.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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