Posts Tagged ‘Part-Time Work’

Vox Political: Benefit Sanctions for Part-Time Workers Could Legalise Breach of Contract

November 13, 2014

Another piece worth reproducing from Vox Political. Mike in this piece, Is Iain Duncan Smith legalising breach of contract?, points out the further problems for working people with IDS’ plan to cut in-work benefits for part-time workers, who refuse the offer of further hours from their employer. It begins

Here’s something mentioned during Iain Duncan Smith’s session before the Commons Work and Pensions committee last week, that doesn’t seem to have enjoyed enough attention: It seems Daftie Duncan Smith wants to legalise breach of contract.

He reckons part-time workers should be sanctioned off their top-up benefits if they refuse extra hours offered by their employer.

The sanctions would apply under the Universal Credit system – which is never going to work anyway – so perhaps this is an inconsequential matter, but it is disturbing that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions understands so little about contracts of employment that he thinks this is a reasonable way to behave.

He told the Work and Pensions committee: “That is being investigated, as to whether we can now work to in-work sanctions – in other words, conditionality – so people get an opportunity to move up the hours if they can, and if they don’t wish to do that, we will see whether or not that system of conditionality works.”

Perhaps he doesn’t realise that some people are only able to work a certain number of hours per week, and that any increase means they will not be able to continue in the job. Perhaps he doesn’t realise that this will make them unemployed, and his “conditionality” prank means that they would be sanctioned off being able to claim benefits for a period of time after that, meaning they would be doubly punished for a situation that was not their fault.

Mike considers that such a move would constitute breach of contract on the part of the employer, and wonders if IDS is aware of this. He concludes that it is more likely he simply doesn’t care. I suspect the reality is that IDS, like the rest of the Tories, has a one-sided view of job contracts. They and he believe contracts are there to bind the workers to the employers and whatever conditions the bosses set, rather than a negotiated agreement that is equally binding on both parties. Hence the number of times employers under right-wing governments in the past have repeatedly torn up old contracts with the unions to impose new conditions, that are much harsher on their workers and strip them of their employment rights and privileges.