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Op-Ed: Poor employment practices disclosed over the Holidays

The first, displaying the harshness of employment practices in a throwback to the Downton Abbey process of conducting employer-worker relations, relates to the fringes of the healthcare sector. A private care provider called New Cross Healthcare Solutions has apparently been fining workers who are too sick to work.

This has come to light following an undercover investigation by The Guardian. The newspaper reports that the care provider has been fining employees if they cancel shifts with less than 24 hours notice. The fines are £50 ($75).

The fact that most workers will be unaware that they will be too ill to work 24 hours before their next shift does not appear to be a consideration. The paper goes into detail, in a separate feature, about a worker called Paul McFadden who trod on glass and cut his foot. Unable to work the next day, he states that he was subject to the fine. McFadden told The Guardian: “The £50 that got taken off me was money to go towards my bills. I left the job due to the stress of the sickness policy. How does anyone know if they are going to be sick or injured 24hrs in advance?”

The workers affected are generally low paid, many from areas where finding an alternative job is not easy, leaving them to have little recourse other than to put up and shut up. The firm has denied that workers who are genuinely ill are fined (‘genuine’ isn’t qualified by the company). However, the investigation by The Guardian challenges this.

In another example of the downside of this time of year is the association with a disproportionately high number of layoffs. In particular, events highlight the precarious nature of employment within the gig economy. In one case, Deliveroo has sacked 100 drivers.

The dismissals of this section of low paid workers in the U.K., came just days before Christmas. The drivers were dismissed, without consultation, over alleged in-proprietary. The drivers, according to the Daily Mirror, were notified by an email and, according to their trade union, the International Workers if the World Couriers Network, with out any opportunity to defend themselves.

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There may be a glimmer of hope, as The Guardian reports, for the drivers. Deliveroo has indicated it is prepared to review the savings, but only on a case by case basis. Deliveroo also said that the drivers had received earlier warnings. Because the drivers, as with many players in the gig economy, are classed as self-employed, they are not entitled to the same employment rights as direct labor.

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