Employers say: “Fractionalising staff would result in more redundancies, as staff costs would rise”
- We accept that it could cost more to fractionalise across the board. However, economic consideration is NOT a justification for treating some staff less favourably than others.
- In cases where a small number of staff are involved, the costs of fractionalisation are negligible. It may be worth calculating the actual costs involved.
Employers say: “There is no evidence that fractionalisation would improve quality”
- Well qualified, quality members of staff who are systematically exploited feel little loyalty to the institution and therefore leave, leading to a higher turnover of staff. A transient workforce results in lower quality provision, as people have fewer commitment incentives. Year on year exploitation is not sustainable.
- HPLs receive no reward for commitment and loyalty. The casual nature of the employment of HPLs is at odds with the need for committed staff to provide a long-term service. Continuity is threatened by the use of HPLs.
- It is objectively difficult for HPLs to produce the same quality work as their Main Grade colleagues because of less favourable timetables and access to facilities and support.
Employers say: “Fluctuations in funding and student numbers necessitate the use of staff on variable hours”
- The fact that most HPLs are employed year after year to teach the same courses, with little fluctuation, suggests that the need for staff on WHOLLY variable hours is negligible.
- In cases where roles are no longer required, the normal redundancy procedures would apply.
- Employers generally apply a blanket policy in their use of HPLs. They rarely or never review individuals as to whether the funding for their course is short-term, long-term or likely to be renewed.
Employers say: “HPLs carry out different duties to Main Grade Lecturers, the contracts are different and there are fewer qualification requirements for HPLs”
- Firstly, in FE and HE we have evidence that there is very little difference in the ACTUAL roles of HPLs and Main Grade Lecturers. Although job descriptions and contracts may vary in terms of duties, it’s the actuality of the role which defines the contract as well as the terms of the contract.
- In ACE, most teachers are qualified to Level 5.
- There is a glaring lack of parity between employees carrying out exactly the same work.
- There may be cases to answer under The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations as all HPLs are part-time, therefore part-time staff are inherently and disproportionally vulnerable to the less favourable treatment listed above. See a brief description of the legislation.
Employers say: “The employer is justified in treating HPLs less favourably for operation and economic reasons, and the increasing use of HPLs follows national trends”
- This is a deficit argument. Institutions should desire the best conditions that they can afford for their employees rather than following a trend to the bottom, which results in lower quality, negative morale and inequality.
- To argue justification of HPL contracts, the employer would need to explain why all teaching staff aren’t employed under similar terms. In order to support their argument, we would expect employers to show that if it fractionalises teachers, it would be unable to carry out its normal business.
- In order to justify the serial, long-term use of HPL contracts, employers would need to show that the necessity to employ in such a way outweighs the disadvantages that HPLs experience as a result. In fact the disadvantages to HPLs outweigh any operational benefits apart from cost, which as pointed out above, isn’t a legitimate justification for treating people less favourably.
- In short, objective justification requires a demonstration of necessity – that the work can only be done by the use of such contracts. This is very difficult to do.
Zero hour contracts
Employers say: “The zero hour contract is a permanent contract: it allows the employer to vary the hours to zero without terminating employment”
- We could counterargue that the zero hour contract is in fact a termly- or annually-renewed Fixed Term contract, because it is implicit that there is no continuation of work after the end of term, and especially at the end of the academic year. Since there is no reference to minimum employment / teaching hours in the contract, this implies that on the expiry of each termly contract, employment would revert to a default of zero hours and therefore cessation of salary and employment.
- There is an intrinsic lack of the guarantee of future work in the Zero Hour contract and this is a defining characteristic of a fixed term contract.
- Therefore, the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 would apply.
Employers say: “There is no discrimination in the use of HPL contracts”
- We are in the process of collecting this data. (Please complete this survey.) However, we know that a disproportionate number of HPLs are women. For example, at an east London college, in January 2013 approximately 32% of male teaching staff are HPL compared to 44% of female staff (estimated).
- It would be interesting to consider Equal Pay claims under the Equal Pay Act 1970.
Health and safety
Employers say: “There is no Health and Safety issue”
- HPLs are under enormous stress, especially towards the end of the year, as they have little or no job security. HPLs experience considerable pressure due to being on worse pay for doing the same work as their Main Grade colleagues and having insufficient access to support, resources and policies.
- Fractionalisation would lead to a happier workforce and would be recognised as a gesture of respect towards teachers, which would dramatically improve industrial relations.
Employers say: “The use of HPLs does not affect the institution’s ability to compete”
- FE colleges with expanding 6th form sectors in their boroughs are losing lucrative 16-19 yr old students and are struggling to compete. 6th form centres can compete on quality because their employment practices are much more stable and fair, with better retention of staff, and therefore better continuity.