Reducing unemployment

I took a quick look on RecruitIreland.com and couldn’t find a single job offering job share (where two or more workers share the same job). Which got me thinking – should the government be incentivising job share schemes? That is offering tax breaks, or other incentives, to employers who offer shared jobs.

I am sure these type of arrangements would suit many workers currently in employment and some unemployed. It would mean that come any redundancies companies could lay-off less staff, and as current staff take up the program they may be able to hire in unemployed workers who would prefer not to work full-time (e.g. young mothers, older workers, mature students etc.).

Some good news on Irish unemployment – it fell by 0.4% between Q4 2009 and Q1 2010! Although unemployment currently stands at a depressing 12.9%.

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  • Fearglic

    As a public service worker a am accutely aware of the imminent proposed cuts. Job shares don’t seem to be an option anymore. We are warned of pay freezes and recruitment freezes. Morale at an all time low. Noone sees the tide turning. It’s doom and gloom. The empty shops and pubs in administration speak volumes.

  • Re-engaged

    Appears to be the same everywhere – real feeling 2010 is going to be worse than last year and dear knows what 2011 will bring!

    My wife is a teacher and has offered to go part time / job share, only to be told – no, we don’t do that anymore at a time that they know they need to reduce costs. If this is how frontline services are to be treated… (what next???)

    Unfortunately our local disfunctional government in NI does not want to take any decisions before next years election – my feedback – sort it out now before it is too late, the private sector is sinking and without it there is many public sector jobs which will disappear.

  • Aldamir

    I would guess that from an employer’s perspective the type of person who usually wishes to job share is a woman with a young family. This would bring a much higher risk of future maternity leave payments and the like, so might not be a good economic prospect. For many jobs the lack of continuity would make job sharing more difficult (customers might prefer to deal with the same person rather than with A Mon to Wed and B Thurs and Fri).

    From the state’s point of view, the taxman gets a bigger share of the money if only one person does the job than would be the case if two do it.

  • Mack

    From the state’s point of view, the taxman gets a bigger share of the money if only one person does the job than would be the case if two do it.

    You’d have to balance that against higher unemployment costs (dole, housing benefit and other allowances) and importantly a more unhappy electorate.

    It won’t suit every job – but it appears to virtually non-existant in the private sector in the south.

  • Johnny Boy

    Does the NI government make decisions on anything?

  • John East Belfast

    Some jobs do lend themselves to sharing but as there is still only one salary it will be only relevant to the Part Time job market.

    Having said that if the real aim was to get people of the dole ?
    ie say the state pays two individuals £95 per week for being on the dole and a company had a job paying £190 per week.
    Instead of employing one full time job they take on two for a half day week and pay them £95 each. The State then no longer pays social security and people currently sitting at home all week go to work for two days for the same money.

  • Oracle

    John that’s an ill thought out consept, that means there would never be full time empolyment, why would any employer raise wages i mean Jesus Christ £190 quid a week … fuck me would you or your family work for that….
    Also employers can bully one worker against another, cut lunches, health and safety, the list goes on

  • Johnny Boy

    Minds are going to have to be concentrated on creating real jobs in the private sector. Job sharing is fine for people who really want to do it, but as a way of keeping people off the dole it would just be a gimmick.

  • Mack

    Not really Johnny.

    In the south redundancies are running at 6,000 per month. If instead of firing 6,000 people companies cut back 5,000 jobs and found 2,000 or so workers willing to share – that would over time have a big impact on the unemployment rate.

    My guess is that there would be a lot of young mothers who would appreciate 2 days-a-week with their children and also near-retirees would appreciate a slower pace of life (to say nothing of those who’d like to retrain etc).

  • Mack

    What made me think of it was there have been a lot redundancies in companies where I know there are well-paid professional women who would like to keep their jobs but where some, at least, would probably be willing to share (for every 2 that share, 1 less worker need lose their jobs).

    Unfortunately because that’s not an option you end up with more people losing their jobs than is neccessary. To be honest, I think job sharing could work in my industry, but I’ve never come across it.

  • Johnny Boy

    I don’t doubt that it would have an impact on the unemployment rate, but that’s just a fugure at the end of the day, and I don’t believe it would be tackling the real problem.

  • Oracle

    ***** Oracles Tips For Reducing Unemployment *****

    1) Deport Gregory Campbell to somewhere (anywhere) Right that’s 4 jobless working already.
    2) All Politicians to single job… that’s another 40 jobless working.
    3) No Politician to employ family members… that’s another 100 jobless working

    Only At this ten minutes and I’ve created 144 jobs already this isn’t hard at all, we could also create jobs by saving money too

    1) Cease all wasteful Community squandering… err. I mean community funding, right that’s tens of millions saved.
    2) Cease all use of Consultants of any hue… Right that’s hundreds of millions saved
    3) Cease all use of Committees or Quangos.. Right that’s another 50 million saved.

    1) Stop all inquiries into state killings.. Hitting the big bucks now at least 500 million
    2) Dig up and sell the Giants Causeway on the internet at a £1 a chipping £50 quid a Hex head and a thousand quid a full column, the rubble can be sold as hard-core there’s another 700-800 million
    3) Sell the entire area of county Down to Sellafield for a toxic waste dump.. Right that’s another tenner in the kitty.

    *** Or we could make it a law that all companies must be like the Civil Service were only Catholics are allowed to work and that would eliminate the dole queues completely ****

  • Johnny Boy

    It’s ridiculous to suggest that only Catholics are allowed to work in the Civil Service. It’s common knowlege that nobody works in the Civil Service.

  • Mack

    What ever you write you always come at it from the bosses perspective, sadly you never fail to disappoit me, still, like the rest of the human race, you were not put on earth to keep Mick Hall sweet ;).

    Why employers only, why not incentivise workers to share jobs on a work share bases, say with tax breaks/whatever.

    This would be an ideal way to combat redundancies, and keep skilled workers on a companies book, so that when the upturn ‘eventually’ comes the company can up its productivity without going through a massive recruitment programe, knowing it already has skilled and semi skilled competent workers on its books.

    Surly one of the most abused and worthless examples from the boom years is government tax breaks for business.

  • Mack

    Mick –

    Because, I suspect, workers want to share jobs already and there is no supply. If there was lots of supply but no demand then incentivising workers to take up the jobs would be a good move.

    Having to incentivise both would mean no one actually wants it at current prices (except the government) and it might turn out to be expensive for them (but I actually doubt this is the case).

    My guess is, from at least my personal circle, a reasonable number of workers would be interested. Why is there no supply? It’s probably too much hassle for companies to employ 2 people to work one job (extra overheads, management time, same wage costs) – but government incentives could make it worth their while to take on that extra work and deliver a win-win-win (worker-boss-state).

  • Mack

    Workers who work share will pay a lot less tax anyway because we have a progressive tax system.

    Worth bearing in mind that employers also pay social security contributions for each employee (typically a percentage of a workers salary).

    From the employers perspective this part of the cost of hiring a worker (i.e. if it was abolished in a full-employment environment, it would likely end up being paid out in workers salaries. Or from the other perspective increases to this tax will result in lower wages over the long term for employees. In the current environment reducing employers social security wouldn’t result in higher wages, but would result in higher employment levels). It is effectively a tax on workers (a hidden tax) – so tinkering with that might just meet your criteria..

  • Mack

    Workers of a certain age or those with young children and whose partner is in full time work, may wish to share jobs voluntarily, but for many people with school age families, I doubt they could afford to job share unless they received some sort of incentive. You have to give those with comparatively stable jobs, an incentive to share it with someone who is less fortunate than themselves.

    Personally I feel it is a good idea, we have become so obsessed with ‘work’ many people outside of their families have no interests or very few. It is a surprising fact we can exist with less money, as many people who retire find out.

    Whilst I am on this subject, the MSM and government ministers would do well to stop stigmatising the unemployed, because if we tumble into a full blown recession a lot more folk will find out what it is actually like to be unemployed; and I am absolutely certain many will get a very big shock having swallowed the MSM and politicians guff.

    Besides, stigmatising people as work-shy, etc, is no way to reenergise the long term unemployed, nor does it give employers the confidence to take them on.

    If only government and its media were to set a bench mark that it is not only perfectly reasonable to work share, indeed it is an honourable thing to do, as it keeps a workmate or unemployed person in a job, all be it part time.

    They should also highlight most folk are unemployed through no fault of their own, this is increasingly true in a recession. Thus people should be encouraged to use this extra free time usefully, whether it is keeping fit, studying, helping out charities, engaging in local politics, whatever.

    What really drives me mad is to hear well paid government ministers, and media hacks, castigating unemployed people, for not endlessly chasing jobs that the government knows full well are just not there.

  • Re-engaged

    Nothing – probably something on requisitions for pens etc… but nothing yet that has had a meaningful impact

  • Re-engaged

    This is certaninly true Aldamir but the problem is with the problem with the current cost of living etc… most families need someone working at least some of the time as a second income

  • Johnny Boy

    Benefit fraud is rife in NI, and an insult to every worker and genuine job seeker.

  • Framer

    All new public sector vacancies for jobs with salaries over £20.000 should be split and offered to two people thereby lifting many more off the dole.

    The government should also announce no redundancies at all in public sector just splitting of existing jobs

    Trade unions would go berserk however not to mention staff queuing up for redundancy money. [three years salary]

  • The Raven

    I’ve had staff working through jobshare before, and it was a nightmare. Things got missed – through no fault of their own – it’s just human nature. Crossover times got missed, projects suffered on occasion from a lack of continuity and so on. Also, I believe – though will be happily corrected – that two part-timers actually works out dearer for the employer…?

    Talk above about focusing minds on private sector jobs. A small example – a much-younger friend of mine works in the civil service, and wants to start his own part time business. Human nature being such, he is trying to build it up now, and strike out when things become a little more established. Unfair you may cry, how dare he earn a wage from government, and then try and earn more! But I think it’s great he’s moving towards it, as a small crafts-based business from home.

    Until:
    He tries to get sense out of HMRC about his tax code vis a vis his total earnings.
    He speaks to the Rate Collection people and sees the rates hike his garage is going to impose on the rest of the house.
    He tries to wander his way through the change of use paperwork.
    He tries to get a grant from DARD for some equipment and is put off by the paperwork within minutes of speaking to staff.
    He goes to a bank. Need I say any more about how well THAT didn’t go?

    I think we have a very, very long way to go before we can talk about an enterprise culture. The government espouses it on one hand, and takes it away on the other.

    Lots of people start their own business. Many try and fail. Many are successful. But I wonder how many are put off by the very people who promote it as a way forward? I’m not saying it should be easy. But it should be easier.

    I didn’t even have the heart to tell him what it would be like if he ever wanted to hire a member of staff.

  • Comrade Stalin

    3) No Politician to employ family members… that’s another 100 jobless working

    No, it’s no net gain, because the family members are now not employed.

  • Oracle

    C.S

    They weren’t working anyway so the well paid politician can support them instaed of the taxpayer.. thus the money is shared further that the politico’s families

  • The raven

    Interesting post, although I can assure you it is not only people like your friend who are put off when dealing with government departments, I know some might not believe it, but the whole process of pointless form filling is one of the main reasons why many people fail to claim the benefits they are entitled to.

    Starting a new business is a complicated, yet brave thing to do, especially in a recession, it seems to me given the will, it is not beyond the wit of government to make this process much simpler.

    You mention we are a long way from an enterprise culture, I agree, and we are also a very long way from the Yellow and Blue Tory governments claim it wishes to rebalance the British economy back towards manufacturing, big and small. What message does its cutting of the loan to Sheffield Forge send out, not least to the city and banks? I would suggest, take note of what we do, not what we say.

    Someone else will have to tell you whether job share is more expensive for employers, if so, then as Mack suggested a tax incentive might help. I understand what you have said about ‘cross over’ and you may have a point, as I have heard this complaint from both management and workers. Especially when Job Share consisted of half day working, if you get my drift?

    I would have thought with job-share, you cannot simply get two employees to share the same job and then simply back off and allow them to get on with it. There must be some preparing of the ground and oversight, as for most employees it is a totally new working environment.

    Perhaps this is one case of the dreaded induction course actually being of value 😉

    For me the biggest disaster of the Thatcher years was the massive growth of the economically disadvantaged or ‘underclass,’ if you prefer. The legacy of which is still with us and has blighted so many lives and communities. What happened was generations of unemployed people, and the State, accepted that they had no real prospect of finding work and entering the mainstream of daily life.

    Instead of dealing with this problem governments of both party’s have simply stigmatised them as work-shy, etc, and threatened them with cuts to their benefits.How threatening and demoralising further people who are already rock bottom is going to help is beyond me. It is a nasty case of governmental scape goating and playing to the Daily Mail agenda.

    If we helplessly enter a depression due to government mis management, which seems likely, this section of our communities will grow, thus there is an onus on government, employers, trade unions and those workers who have jobs, to see this does not occur. Otherwise the UK and Ireland will go down the road of the USA and become a two-thirds society. With all the disastrous consequences this entails.

    Good luck to your friend.