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So, how many Mumsnetters "Aren't working enough"?

(136 Posts)
KeemaNaanAndCurryOn Mon 09-Sep-13 18:53:23

Guardian article here

First the weak, the sick and the disabled. Now people who work.

The next plan for Universal credit is to look at people who get Working Tax credit and assess whether they are working enough. If they're classed as such, they will need to find extra hours or they'll have their benefits cut.

Considering that a lot of low paid work is done by women, is it becoming a feminist issue?

Wereonourway Tue 10-Sep-13 19:44:46

After having ds I made the decision to cut my hours from 40 to 24 to spend time with him.

I was then offered a new job and had a choice to work 20, 24, 30 or 38 hours. I chose 24.

I'd like to spend some time with ds, I'll never get these years back.

However I'd chosen to work 30 or 38 hours I actually be no better of at all due to childcare costs.

I do get approx 55% of my costs back from ctc at the minute if I worked 30 hrs it would reduce to something like 20%

The 35% difference is a days work, so if I worked the extra six hours it would be paid directly to my sons nursery.

Does that make me a bad person? For me it was barely worth consideration. Unless there is a financial incentive for me to be away from my son and to have him in childcare I'm not gonna do it

SunshineSuperNova Tue 10-Sep-13 19:45:20

Weegie flowers

Where are all these sodding full-time jobs meant to come from? Employers are offering insanely low hours / zero hours contracts at crappy wages, which is why so many people need to claim tax credits and the like.

scarlettsmummy2 Tue 10-Sep-13 22:42:35

The welfare state is in a complete mess and perhaps there wouldn't be so much of a need to cut benefits from the really needy if we didn't pay out so much in tax credits to those that deliberately stay under the threshold by working part time to keep their benefits and salary at the optimum.

Darkesteyes Tue 10-Sep-13 23:09:18

scarlettsmummy how would you tackle an employer who has you on a zero hours contract but wont give you extra hours and wont let you get those extra hours with another employer.

BrokenSunglasses Wed 11-Sep-13 08:29:22

I'm not working enough hours or earning enough money, but I don't claim benefits so I'm assuming I won't be affected.

In theory, I don't have a problem with policies like this but as always, the reality doesn't work. There needs to be a way of differentiating those who genuinely can't get more hours and those who don't want to work more hours because their tax credits (working or child) enable them not to bother.

I think people choosing to work less hours is a big problem that needs to be tackled somehow. I have a lovely colleague who often does overtime, but she doesn't fill in a time sheet to get paid for her extra hours because it would mess up her working tax credits claim. I don't blame her for doing that, the system leaves her with little choice.

Zero hour contracts are also a big problem, but there are people that they work well for so they need to be protected at the same time as protection being given to those that it works very badly for. At the very least, if someone isn't given a certain number of hours each week while on a zero hour contract, then they need to be free to look for work elsewhere.

Chunderella Wed 11-Sep-13 09:59:27

We need legislation to deal with the zero hour contract situation. I could be tempted not to ban them, because they do suit some people, but one of two things needs to happen. Either:

a) Employers can require people on zero/limited hours contracts to be available for more than their contracted hours, but must pay an hourly retainer for any hours they have reserved that the employee does not then work.

b) Employees are free to take as many zero hour contracts as suits them, with no obligation to be available for anything other than their contracted hours.

Basically, if employers want someone available, they can pay. Perhaps half minimum wage, for hours an employee hasn't worked but has been available. Hopefully this would avoid the need for an outright ban.

blibbleflop Wed 11-Sep-13 11:36:16

It boils down to this:

The government wants to make it everyone's responsibility to earn £950 a month, which is 35.42 hours per week at minimum wage. This is not an unreasonable desire from their perspective.

There are barriers to this goal, namely the lack of (nice) jobs offering these hours, the prevelance on zero hour contracts which stipulate no other job and finally childcare.

Childcare - The current system allows those with young children to work much fewer hours than those without children to qualify for tax credits 16 hours for single parents, 24 hours (combined) for a couple or 30 hours for those without children. It would be impractical for a single parent to be expected to work 36 hours a week and to be able to afford childcare. With a couple you have more leeway, you can try and get work in opposing patterns so that there is always someone around when the kids need looking after, it's not ideal but when you're on the bones of your arse needs must.

Zero Hour Contracts - These need fixing through legislation, the company shouldn't be allowed to prevent you seeking extra work (or punish you through reduced hours for doing so) if it isn't prepared to give you a minimum number of hours per week (I'd argue that that 35.42 number would be good).

Jobs offering full time hours - These DO exist, they're just not necessarily doing what you want to be doing. My DP has been trying to upgrade from 20 hours per week to full time and is applying for (and getting interviews to) a variety of jobs such as kitchen porters, laundry assistants, cleaners, warehouse packers etc, basically any job going because we need the money. She might end up having to work weekends and we'll end up spending less time together as a result, but at the end of the day you've got to take responsibility for yourself and make the best of things.

Location is going to be a huge issue to people and is going to become worse over time. There are certain areas of the country that no amount of regeneration money is going to fix, nobody is going to open up new retail areas if there's no money in the area. One of the worst things that home ownership has done is lead to an immobile workforce. There are towns and villages around the country that grew up around industries, the industries didn't move to the people, the people moved to the jobs. This needs to happen again.

Darkesteyes Wed 11-Sep-13 14:23:58

How the hell can people move to jobs People in HA properties have the same problem bibble Do you know how long it takes to organise a move and thats after you have successfully bidded for a place And moving costs money And in lots of cases people cant afford to fork all this out for the sake of a minimum wage job and no job security And thats if the employer has been willing to wait all this time for you to move. And because of the lack of job security you could end up having to go through all this again What about the affect it should have on childrens schooling.

And im going to pre empt the tirade that will inevitably arise from this post "Well those with out children can do it" because i dont see why the childless should get the shitty end of the stick all the time.

A recent survey showed that 42% of childless people feel discriminated against at work and are fed up with their appointments for things like dentists etc coming last.

There is enough division in the workplace as it is without creating more.

blibbleflop Wed 11-Sep-13 16:10:42


I never said it would be easy, just that it's the only viable solution long term. There needs to be some sort of mechanism from moving people where there are no jobs to areas that have them.

If you're in an area with 50% unemployment then long term, staying put is not an option as you're unlikely ever to find work. It's an unpalatable truth, but what other option is there?

Chunderella Wed 11-Sep-13 18:51:28

There is no area of the UK with sufficient work, and the existing job vacancies are simply not enough for everyone to be employed. So while facilitating people's ability to move around more easily would be welcome, it still won't solve the current problem. The fact of the matter is that people can be as proactive, hard working and well qualified as you like- but some of them are still going to be unemployed. There is no getting round this.

78bunion Wed 11-Sep-13 20:31:48

It is certainly true that home ownership makes job flexibility harder. Easier to move if you rent although those with homes could rent them out and move and rent where they move to so I am not sure it is such a huge barrier. Plenty of us have moved hundreds of miles for work as did our ancestors. People always have moved, even moving countries in the past.

ShellyBoobs Wed 11-Sep-13 23:59:36

After having ds I made the decision to cut my hours from 40 to 24 to spend time with him.

For me it was barely worth consideration. Unless there is a financial incentive for me to be away from my son and to have him in childcare I'm not gonna do it

That would be fine, if you didn't expect the subsidy of ctc to facilitate your choice of not working as many hours as you could be.

williaminajetfighter Thu 12-Sep-13 06:28:14

Agree with Shelleyboobs. There will be a large %ge of people who need topping up of their income but there are a smaller percentage of people who will be working out how many hours to do a week by visiting '' and calculating what are the optimum hours to work.

I suppose what the govt wants to do is for benefits to support people's CURRENT situation as a kind of emergency measure and not for benefits to be a consideration for FUTURE financial and life planning.

At my work I've seen loads of women make the decision to give up permanent, solid jobs ( the ones that people on this thread say no longer exist) to go part time or significantly reduced hours. That's fine and completely their perogative but in that situation they really shouldn't be considering what kind of govt support they'll get to justify their choice. I think this is the kind of thing that the govt is trying to clamp down on. It would be foolish for people to make life plans based on the kind of handouts they might get from the govt anyway --- since it's not a given that said handout wil exist next year.

Deathbyladybirds Thu 12-Sep-13 06:48:41

I hate this government so much. How much more damage can they do? It's so frightening.

merrymouse Thu 12-Sep-13 07:00:40

The Government wants to push people towards full time work because it maximises their productive output which in turn strengthens the economy and increases prosperity within the country.

Easier said than done. At the moment it seems that the government are busily counting everybody who has even a paper round as somebody they can knock off the unemployment statistics.

Plenty of people are taking part-time work because full-time employment isn't available. It's a bit like the bedroom tax. Whatever the theoretical rights and wrongs of the policy, it's a complete waste of time to try to push people into doing something (enable reallocation of housing stock) if the practical resources aren't there (lack of suitable housing stock).

Unless you are just trying to spend less money, and don't really care what people do.

78bunion Thu 12-Sep-13 09:35:20

It is correct that women give up well paid full time jobs because the state will top up their earnings to the same level by tax credits. It is not the women's faults. It is the system that needs to change.

Chunderella Thu 12-Sep-13 09:44:13

I think a more important point is that we ought not to be in a situation where one full time job and one part time job isn't enough to support a small family. A fucked up housing system is responsible for a large part of this.

Letsadmitit Thu 12-Sep-13 19:19:36

It is a bit better or worse than that, depending on your particular circumstances. What is true is that again, the most vulnerable will be the ones more affected:

You can continue to work part time as long as you are working more than 16 hours a week and having a weekly income of what you would earn working full time in a minimum salary.

If you don't fit the above, the job centre will call you to accept interviews with other prospective employers, if you don't attend, the credits are cancelled. If you attend and get a job you will need to leave the previous job even if the new one is a short term contract.

But, in these times of high unemployment I will eat my hat if they are able to enforce it. Frankly, I am just assuming the conservatives will be out of power by the times these measures are ready to be implemented.

I guess the first priority would be to employ the unemployed than given those interviews to people who are more or less better off.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Thu 12-Sep-13 21:12:11

It's great if you have a choice, my workplace has had to reduce the hours that we all work to avoid a lot of financial hardship. We are all working such odd hours that we couldn't get other work to fill the short fall. What are we supposed to do? It's OK but we're not qualified for any other work - I have a degree in my area of work and have done nothing but that for the past 14 years.

Theimpossiblegirl Thu 12-Sep-13 21:34:11

" I don't see the issue with this, the Government should push everyone towards full time work."

Bit of a Gove-ism there. Belongs in the same category as "people using food banks are crap with money." (not a direct quote)

Some people are just a bit out of touch.

williaminajetfighter Thu 12-Sep-13 23:01:25

"It is correct that women give up well paid full time jobs because the state will top up their earnings to the same level by tax credits. It is not the women's faults. It is the system that needs to change."

That's right - we live in a world without personal choice. It's not our decision, we're forced into it! The system is wrong. Give me a break - is this how adults think? ?

MadameLeBean Fri 13-Sep-13 03:51:10

Willemina you can't expect people not to optimise their work:life balance with whatever financial support is available (just like using your entire ISA allowance is not morally wrong) the system exists and if it subsidises people "shirking" then the system is flawed

Letsadmitit Fri 13-Sep-13 08:13:19

Well... I think that tax credits and other benefits are there to level the ground with other people but I confess I feel outraged when I heard people who as me are getting some financial help but who keep turning down jobs because they want to spend more time with their (healthy) children, walk the dog, etc. These are not options most people who are not in benefits will have. So I don't see how choosing to work less while you can while you are in benefits can be ok (unless you are a carer, of course).

Having said that, i did work several years part time, admitedly, i am a single parent with no family around (none whatsoever), i don't have any help or prople to rely on. But that's not the reason I was working part time... The reason was that despite constant job applications and efforts to get more work, I couldn't find any at the time.

I have 2 jobs now and still surviving as a single mother, my son is ok, we don't see each other between 3:30 and 6, I'm exhausted most of the time, but the world has not ended, and most importantly, our world will not end when all these benefits end when he turns 18.

DownstairsMixUp Fri 13-Sep-13 08:24:15

I really do wonder if they are on drugs when they come up with this bollocks or just live on a different planet! I would LOVE to work more hours, I work 16 a week at the moment and my little one goes to nursery 15 hours a week, I just can't afford to pay childcare! In the holidays I still get charged as they don't count the 15 hours funding either during the holidays, why do they do this to?! How many jobs out there are really that flexible you can have the half terms off? It's a real battle where i work to book the holidays because of this, no one can afford the ridiculous childcare costs! How about they start focusing more on helping with childcare issues and not just making it seem like all of us are lazy arse holes who can't be bothered to do anymore work?!

Also where are all these full time jobs going to be?! And the ones that do exsist, a lot don't pay enough. My other half recently got made redundant, it wasn't an unskilled job either but he was still only taking home 900 a month on the minimum wage so it was soon swallowed up especially in the holidays when we were hit with childcare fees. I had always worked full time up till my son was born usually in the care sector but it is actually impossible for me now, not at least till he turns 11 and can get himself to and from school so i can work full time again!

williaminajetfighter Fri 13-Sep-13 08:52:26

Madame your logic is pretty crazy. It's the govt's fault if they don't help but if they provide assistance that can be abused that's the govt's fault too.

I still think its poor planning and morally wrong for people to future plan based on the benefits they may get. Benefits are there to help people in a difficult situation not to give mummy the freedom to go from full time to part time work because she can't bear to be away from Oscar or Ruaridgh.

She has a choice and the woman making that choice is taking funds from those who do not.

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