Friday, 5 March 2010

The BBC Compares Private and Public Sector

From the BBC

It's all about money or shorter hours - isn't it? There are many assumptions made about why people work in the public or private sector, but what's the reality when two workers compare their jobs?

Interestingly, it's in the field of software development which I happen to work in.

Now, the job and the experience are comparable, so we're looking at a level playing field.

Core Hours: Public 36 Hours. Private 35 Hours.

First up, this is bullshit. I've worked in a lot of companies and I know what their staff work, and 35 hours/week is rare. It's generally 37 or maybe 39 hours.

Salary: Public £30-35K. Private £35K+Overtime
As one of them works in London, does this include London weighting?

Holiday days look about right.

Overtime: Public unofficial and unpaid. Private on-call rota + call-in time.
I did some work in the public sector, and whilst it might be "unofficial and unpaid", I didn't see much evidence that people had to do much beyond their core hours. A few hours a month is "normal" to most staff.

Pensions: Public no final salary but 19.5% of salary from employer. Private final salary with employer paying in double.
Final pension salaries are very rare in the private sector, especially for people who've joined a company in the past 5 years. And most employers don't pay in double the pension on top. And if the private sector pension gets overfunded, the employers will quit paying in (unlike the public sector).

Annual Bonus: Private - up to 6%. Public - 0.
Yes, and 4% of that has to be earnt. Which means going above average. 2% is based on company performance which is out of your hands. And lots of companies right now are paying out nothing.

Staff Benefits: Private - money saving discounts at certain retailers. Public - none.
Yeah, big deal.

On top of all of this, it's also worth noting that the private sector is generally less generous than the public sector with redundancy payouts.

You'll also get away with a lot more sick days.

But the biggest single thing is the difference in work ethic between public sector and the private sector IT departments. I know a lot of independent software developers, and the one expression that I have used by people use when referring to the public sector is "holiday camp", and this reflects my own experience in a brief period. In the department I worked, I could have run the department on about 2/3rds of the staff that they had.

Now, the thing is that there used to be a trade-off. Easier work, job security, more holiday, more pensions. But in exchange you got quite a lot less salary. New Labour have tipped this far too far and now, this is crippling the private sector which can't compete for staff.

What's unfortunate about this BBC piece is that it doesn't reflect reality and is actually showing the public sector as not much better off than the private sector (which just isn't the case at the moment).

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