Thursday, 10 February 2011

Working for nothing

Like any other business we must follow good employment practices. We cannot be certain that funding for some our projects will continue past 31st March so in January we issued 'at risk of redundancy' notices to 36 of our 80 staff. Senior Managers and HR are now engaged in individual consultation meetings with each of those people. The purpose of the meetings is to explain the situation, why they could lose thier job, what is being done to prevent that and ask them if they have any suggestions to make about it.

You learn a lot about people during these meetings for example how important their work is to them, not just financially, though of course that it always important, but how much they care about what they do and the children, young people and families they work with. Many staff would rather radically reduce their hours (and income) rather than give up on the people they help during their work.

One part time worker told us all her income goes on child care. She has 3 children, when she is at work two go to a nursery (part of a local authority run Children's Centre) and the third one goes to an after school club. The whole of her part-time salary just covers the monthly cost of that child care. The only financial benefit to her of working is that it entitles her to Tax Credits. She was worried that the government is planning to change Tax Credits, if that happens there would be no point in her working at all, she would be better off just staying at home. She wants to work at least part-time because her current arrangement works well for her and her children.

So far all the talk in the news has been about cuts in public services but the proposed changes in benefits have not yet even begun to bite, when they do many families are going to be siginifcantly worse off.

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