Saturday, March 06, 2010


Now here's an example of a completely irrelevant piece of journalism. I clicked on it having worked for exactly twenty years in the private sector surrounded by friends in the public domain so considered myself well placed to analyse it. But comparing one random person in the private sector with anyone is utterly pointless given private companies set their own agenda.

So for all you public workers out there who are rushing to hand in your notice tomorrow to pursue a job in the private sector here's a bit of the UK private sector I know (from my own experience, and that of other family members).

Core hours are probably between 35 and 38 hrs a week.

Salary is probably on a par with or slightly lower than public sector for equivalent post. With rises of 1 - 1.5% annually for 10 years many private sector jobs have nosedived behind public equivalents. (For example when I started work in publishing in 1991 I earned 30% more than a school teacher, by the time I left the sector 18 years later I was 30% below a school teacher with the same number of years experience because of low annual rises and salary scales that had been abandoned but not replaced.)

Holidays 25 days a year - but taking them given your workload is unlikely so count on losing 3 or 4 at the end of every holiday year.

Overtime - Twenty years ago rates were written into your contract, ten years later rates were dropped as was overtime, now overtime is an everyday occurrence, compulsory, unpaid, and you never hear a 'thank you' - this is the case for all the private sector job holders I know.

Company pension - final salary schemes were phased out 7 or 8 years ago for the most part and thereafter those on final schemes have become easy picking in every round of redundancies but this is of course simply 'coincidence'.

Bonus - 1% if you were eligible, in my own case I was not and never received a bonus in 20 years though other family members have. Often private sector workers receive an annual bonus instead of a salary increase so they have, to all intents and purposes, been on a pay freeze for most of the last 5 years - not great for mortgage purposes.

Benefits - Healthcare discounts and money-saving offers at selected retailers. Again in my case this was not something I was eligible for though other family members have received these.

Union membership - if you want to pay every month you could join a union but no one will strike or complain because of job insecurity so it is irrelevant.

Something the article doesn't mention is sick pay. Sick pay is something public workers take for granted - I have even heard of NHS workers applying for holidays to be retaken when they've fallen sick on holiday. In my experience sick pay in the private sector is irrelevant as being off sick just isn't allowed - with redundancies hanging over you always, being off sick became a luxury about 4 or 5 years ago.

1 comment:

Alan on the Southside said...

That's just about right. I have worked in the private sector in the Construction Industry for over 20 years. I thought you were describing some of the firms I worked for in your post.