Category Archives: employment

Words fail me…


Never underestimate the ability of people to be stupid…


You’re NICked…

First of all let me declare an interest : I spent the best part of the last 20 years of my working life as a self employed contractor in the IT industry. I’m also a chartered accountant so I was particularly interested in what the Chancellor had to say yesterday about National Insurance contributions.

There’s been a lot of nonsense spouted by various self employed people over yesterday’s announcement, not least of all by one particular blogger – whose blog I’m banned from accessing – that I read this morning (working well, that ban, isn’t it?) who simply doesn’t seem to understand the situation at all, frankly. However, in the interests of fairness, you can read his slant on all this here even if I’m not allowed to! (sic.)

What the Chancellor has done is to abolish Class 2 NICs and incorporate that saving into the Class 4 NIC. The Class 4 NIC has then been increased by 1% this year and a further 1% next year.

The bleat from the people who don’t like this seems to revolve around around their employment rights. The self employed have no employment rights, so the argument is irrelevant. The government provide the NHS and a state pension in return for NI. Here’s an important point : The State Pension has been changed so that self employed people now have the same pension rights as employees. They also have the same access to the NHS, so why should they pay less?

Even after these changes, the self employed still pay a lower NI contribution that employees whilst getting the same access to the NHS and the same pension rights. Employees pay 12% compared to the current Class 4 rate of 9%. Over £43,000 p.a. everyone pays 2%.

The net effect of the changes is that self employed people earning under £28,000 per annum will pay less NI. From £28,000 to £43,000 they will pay the same. Over £43,000 they will pay more.

This seems fair to me. Maternity rights, sick pay and paid holidays are not the responsibility of the government. When I worked as a self employed contractor, I earned more than I would have done as an employee. This was precisely because I had to earn enough to cover unpaid holidays, sickness, gaps between contracts and the like.

There is a class of people in this country and others who believe that things should be given to them as a right and that they shouldn’t have to contribute in order to get them. My fellow blogger’s rant calling the government ‘thieving scum’ and the taxman a ‘blood sucking leech’ shows a fundamentally bad attitude and is typical of the ‘something for nothing’ mentality. I won’t bother to argue the case with him because that would be like trying to teach a pig to sing.

The case for this change is clear. It’s about fairness. If you want the same rights, then you should pay the same contributions towards them. And, at the end of the day, nobody forces you to become self employed. It’s a choice for you as it was for me and I fail to see why there should be a financial incentive funded by employed people for you to do so…

Job seeking

The other day my good friend Flaxen Saxon wrote a piece about CVs and interview techniques and it occured to me that in my long and somewhat chequered years at the coal face I’ve probably worked for more companies and attended more interviews than most people have had hot dinners!

At a quick count I’ve held 9 permanent jobs (is there such a thing as a ‘permanent’job?). I’ve been fired twice by the same company, held two full time jobs simultaneously (I was trying to tell the boss I was leaving when he suspended me for attending the interview so I started the next day and drew two salaries for the next three weeks).

I’ve been made redundant 5 times. Each time I got at least three months money in lieu of notice. On one occasion I started at 09:00 and got made redundant at 09:40 with three months money in lieu of course!

Over the course of being a self employed consultant, I’ve seen the inside workings of no less than 37 different firms. But I digress! Here’s my expert tips on handling job interviews.

1. Don’t get hung up on the job description. I have never had a job that in reality bore any relation to the one I applied for.

2. Don’t feel you have to answer the question! One of my favourite responses is “I think you’ll find that self evident from my CV” because they won’t admit they haven’t read it…

3. Remember that interviews are two way. Do you really want to work for that tosser!?! If not, then close it down and leave. Try this one : “I’m sorry but I don’t want to waste any more of your time for a job I don’t want” or – and this is a personal favourite – “I’m afraid you don’t have the qualities I’m searching for in an employer.”

4. Always wear an expensive suit. It puts the interviewer right off his stride if you dress better than him! I’m lucky in that I went to a top public school so I aleays wear the old school tie. It boosts my confidence immeasurably knowing that I’m naturally superior!

5. Never ever ever come over as desperate!!!

6. And finally how to handle the old chestnut at the end. “Is there anything you’d like to ask us?” I usually reply “Yes. I have other interviews lined up so can you tell me what you can offer me to persuade me to come and work for you?”

Now you might think this is a load of old waffle and I’m just having a laugh, but it worked for me. All you need is the self confidence to pull it off.

I retired at the age of 52…

Work is for mugs

I worry sometimes that the British worker has lost his work ethic. Every day I see people sitting in their cars outside my house playing with their phones or generally fucking about because they don’t want to get to work five minutes early. In my day, if you were five minutes early, you just got on with it.

However, that’s nothing compared to the French who are taking to the streets of Paris rioting because they oppose reforms to the Labour Code which will make it easier to fire workers who don’t pull their weight.

After all, it must be terrible to have to work a standard 35 hour week for a minimum wage of €466 and be forced to put up with a minimum of 5 weeks paid holiday every year. Anything over 35 hours must be paid as overtime.

The youth unemployment rate in France is around 25% and the proposed changes are being introduced to try to bolster the flagging French economy. The unions says they erode workers rights – their ‘bill of rights’ comprises a book longer than the bible.

The code is already pretty generous to the workers. For example, EDF employees who work more than 35 hours a week have been eligible for an additional 23 days off a year on top of the standard 27 – a total of 10 weeks’ paid vacation. Needless to say, EDF would like to renegotiate the arrangement. Good luck with that…

So let’s take to the streets and have a damn good riot. Let’s threaten strike action. Any excuse not to have to do any work.

The British might be a bit lazy and work shy but the French seem to be turning it into an art form…


I become more convinced every day that politicians of all colours in the UK are losing the plot – if indeed they haven’t lost it already! Take the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent as a case in point…

Cameron wants to renew it at a cost of £32,000,000,000 but he’s getting a lot of opposition. Plus the country doesn’t have that money to spend even if you believe that on past performance it’s actually going to end up costing that much. So he’s putting off the dreaded decision by spending more money commissioning a report.

Corbyn is even worse. His latest harebrained scheme is a ‘compromise’. He’s thinks we could build the submarines but not arm them with nukes. To suggest this is ludicrous. The idea is that there is always one submarine at sea at any time so if this country is decimated in a nuclear attack then we haven’t lost the ability to respond. If you take away the nukes and replace them with conventional missiles, then there is no point in having the subs in the first place.

Sturgeon is equally living in a fool paradise. The SNP know that losing the contract to build the subs will costs jobs – which is why Corbyn is suggesting we build them anyway. He also knows that he needs to keep the jobs in Scotland if he is to have any hope of forming a coalition government with the SNP. Without Scotland there can never be a Labour majority government.

So the SNP’s policy is to support nuclear disarmament provided that alternative employment can be found for the workers who were going to build them. That’s not going to happen.

There’s no easy answer, but the one that seems to fit the best is to maintain the deterrent, build the subs, keep the jobs. Secretly, I think they all know there’s no other option…