- My “right” to 20 days paid leave (it’s 28 now).
- My “right” to sick pay, and protection of my job while I’m sick.
- My “right” to a long drawn out disciplinary procedure if my employer no longer wants to employ me.
- My “right” to paternity leave and pay.
A general record of my ongoing battle with all forms of nonsense.
Saturday, 30 October 2010
Completely off the normal topic of this blog, but following probably my fifth argument on Twitter over employment law, I figured I’d explain myself in more than 140 characters.
I’ve experienced employment law on both sides of the fence: as employer and as employee. And while I acknowledge that for some people these laws are a benefit, I personally see them as an attack on my freedom. In my experience, the situation seems far worse for the employee than it is for the employer.
So much so, that as an employee in 2000 I spent around £1200 with an accountant to help me waive my employment “rights”. Why, might you ask, would anyone actually pay money to waive their “rights”?
I wanted to waive, amongst other rights:
So why did I want to waive these “rights”?
Let’s use an analogy: TV rentals.
A TV rentals salesman is pitching to you. It’s the perfect TV and you love it. But there are some strange terms and conditions.
Firstly, you don’t get your TV all year round. For 28 days, you can’t have it. You can rent another TV for that time, but you have to keep paying for the first one.
Secondly, the TV may break. If it breaks, you get a slight discount on the rental price while it’s being repaired but you do need to keep paying for it. If the TV is broken for a long time, you are able to get out of the contract but only after a long drawn out process.
Thirdly, the contract lasts until the TV is 65 years old. If you think the TV is no longer up to the task and wish to change it – or you just no longer need it, you’ve got to follow a long drawn out process. You need to fully document this process in advance, and stick to it to the letter or the TV company may sue you. If the TV company no longer wishes to continue renting the TV, they can take it away easily.
Fourthly, the TV company might need the TV back for a while to help make another TV. They can decide to do this at any time, but you need to keep renting the TV at full price for the first 6 weeks of this process, and then at a reduced price for up to a year. At a time decided by the TV company, they can bring the TV back and you need to put it back in your home and continue paying full price. You can rent another TV to cover this period, but of course it will be under the same contract terms.
Now it should be fairly obvious that if you are trying to rent a TV under this contract, then you’re not going to get a great deal of money for it. This is a very silly way to rent TVs.
But, I hear you say. This isn’t about TVs, it’s way more important than that: these are people’s lives.
And you’re right. My life is way more important than a TV and if I’m going to sell a significant portion of it, it is critical that I am able to negotiate the best possible terms.
I can save up for my holidays; I don’t need my employer to do this for me. I can put money aside for when I’m sick. I can imagine nothing more demoralising than turning up to work and demanding pay from someone who no longer wishes to employ me. I will only make the decision to have children if I can pay for them myself.
Waiving these “rights” gives me the negotiating power to demand more of what I do want. For me personally that means more holiday time, flexible hours, better pay, great people to work with and interesting & challenging work.
I’m not negotiating a simple contract to rent a TV; I’m selling a significant portion of my life. When the government forces me to sell under these ludicrous terms that personally offer me little benefit, they’re not controlling and devaluing my TV.
They’re controlling and devaluing my life.
Controlling another person’s life when they are causing no harm is immoral. Controlling another person’s life in a way that significantly devalues it is exceptionally immoral. This is the morality of employment law.
Posted by Simon at 02:42