Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chalk Enterprises

At the end of my book, I mentioned that I was going to set up in business with the idea of becoming rich beyond Mrs Chalk's wildest dreams. It is fascinating to look at the differences between my old job and what I do now.

For example, meetings in teaching are regular, frequent, last forever and never, ever result in any action. There is endless waffle and debate, punctuated by stupid questions about points which have already been discussed. Everybody eventually goes home exhausted and perplexed.

Meetings now are irregular, short; always result in firm decisions and/ or someone getting very cross.

Whilst I was toying with the idea, I went to speak to seven people who ran small companies employing between none and ten workers. They had all been going for between two and twenty five years. Their comments were very interesting especially with regard to employment, in the light of this recent report.

Three out of the seven advised me never to employ anyone at all if I could possibly avoid it. They claimed that contracting out work might be more expensive but that in the long term, the endless nightmares of Employment Law made it worthwhile. Four out of the seven advised me not to employ a woman between 18 and 45 under any circumstances, because of the devastating effect maternity leave can have on a small business and two mentioned the increased chances of a sexism or harassment claim being made against you or another employee.

I also asked the Business Studies teacher for advice, but I don't recall them ever saying anything like that.


Anonymous said...

It's always baffled me why anyone would employ a fertile woman. The societal and legal penalties for doing so make it ridiculously expensive, compared to the alternatives. If every hiring decision was done on a realistic cost/benefit analysis over a realistic length of employment, there would be no male unemployment. If you had to employ someone for, say, five years, and the choice came to a poor candidate who would be there for five years barring freak accident or illness, and a good candidate who had a reasonable chance of spending most of those five years sitting at home on full pay, surely only an idiot would hire the latter?

Anonymous said...

Agreed, it's about time women faced up to the fact that they can't have it both ways. Either you're a worker or you want to be a mother. Chose one and then stick with it. Or if you get a job and then get pregnant resign, don't ask for maternity leave.

I appreciate that this makes it quite hard for single mothers with very young children, and for them some exceptions have to be made. But in general if a woman thinks she may want a family at some point in the very near future, stay at home.

Anonymous said...

Chalky, basically the people you spoke to just explained the differences between working for the State (cloud cuckoo land) and working for yourself (harsh reality).

I wonder which group will pull us out of the recession? Hmmm...

Miss said...

Urgh - school staff meetings! That's high on the list of reasons why I now work for myself (oh, that and my social duty to resign from my job because I was pregnant, of course - kuh!)

Lilyofthefield said...

My brother and my husband are both responsible for the hiring and firing at their respective workplaces and no way would they employ an 18-45 woman if they could get a man instead. My brother took on an accountant of 42, safe, he thought, from maternity leave and endless odd days off for child-related matters. She had a baby aged 44 just to spite him, I reckon.

Suzanne said...

As a 29 yr old woman who doesn't want children, I am massively discriminated against because every employer looks at me and thinks 'No way! She'll be off as soon as she starts work'

Brian E. said...

Everybody knows the truth of what you are saying except politicians, especially those on the left.
With regards to younger women, I think "Wimmins Lib" has done the average woman more harm than good. Younger ones can't get jobs because of the costs of maternity leave, and because they would have to be paid the same as a man, when any employer will tell you that the female absence rate is far higher. House prices, which are dependent upon what people can afford rather than underlying value, have shot up because two can afford more than one (unlike my days when only the main earner's salary would be considered). Yes a few high flyers have benefited but I suspect many more have lost out.

Anonymous said...

I'm a director of a Limited Company, and that company's employment policy is very simple: I don't employ anyone who isn't a director of the company. This policy is racist, sexist and homophobic and I don't care a snap of the fingers about it.

If Guardian readers want to make an issue of it, that's fine. I'll leave the country.

Brian, follower of Deornoth

MadOldBat said...

On the other hand , Frank ,an equally politically incorrect truth is that many people would like educated middle class females to have more of the next generation of taxpayers .They are not going to do that without incentives.Money won't do it - we have proved that over here in Oz with the "bogan bonus" - the money the state pays you when you have a baby. Hello next welfare generation.(bogan-?english equivalent).We also want females who have cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands in training to continue to work (and yes that's another great debate - the average male doctor used to work 1.4 FTE after graduation, the average female doctor works 0.6 FTE- now that there are more females than males in medical school the bang for the taxpayer's buck is considerably less).So again there is the need for incentives.I do think that the we should be honest about it though - it should not be a RIGHT to work part time or to take paid leave for having a baby - we should accept that it is a bribe offered for a long term economic goal.If you want equity offer the same terms to men.

Anonymous said...

MadOldBat, two cheap, easy but non pc solutions to both those problems

1) Stop paying child benefits to women just for having children.

2) Train more more male doctors than female ones.

J. Wibble said...

I can't remember who said it, I think it may have been Jo Brand who said that Women's Lib hasn't really done all that much liberating: "In the bad old days women had to cook, clean, do all the washing and look after the kids. And now, with Women's Lib, we can have a full-time well."

When I was doing my terrible impression of a girl I was always confused (and indeed still am) by the concept that I was supposed to be thrilled that I could have a big important time-consuming job AND be expected to raise a bunch of kids at the same time. I very much doubt there are many women who truly *want* to do both - my mother would have loved to have been a stay-at-home mum but my dad got made redundant six months after my sister was born and refused to look for another job so she didn't really get a say in the matter.

I agree that paying Child Benefit is a bad idea, mostly because it provides a false incentive - the money is £20 a week for the first child and £13.20 a week for each subsequent child. If you have a child thinking you're going to claim a mountain in Child Benefit you will be very disappointed when you realise it probably doesn't even cover a week's nappies.

Anonymous said...


Anyone who thinks fertile women shouldn't be allowed to have a job, RAISE YOUR HANDS.

Anyone who then has a good idea of how to financially support these women (who, after all, are not allowed to work), let's hear it.

A Woman (who is 34 and employed)

Paul Brennan said...

A Woman, nobody is saying that women shouldn't be employed. I and many other employers are simply saying that we cannot afford to employ them.

Criss L. Cox said...

@J. Wibble, the point of the Women's Lib movement was not to make you "to be thrilled that I could have a big important time-consuming job AND be expected to raise a bunch of kids at the same time." The point of feminism and the Women's Lib movement is that women no longer be EXPECTED to do something they are not interested in doing. If you WANT to have a job and children, then go ahead. If you want to have a job and no children, then go ahead. If you want to have children and no job, then go ahead.

@all the brave Anonymous saids...
I understand this blog is written in the UK and I therefore assume the Anonymous commenters condemning women for the sin of owning a uterus are also in the UK, where women actually HAVE maternity leave.

I, sadly, live on the other side of the pond, where our health care is a joke missing the punchline. There is no such thing as maternity leave here. We merely have one flimsy law that says your employer has to give you some time off if you have a child or an illness or must take care of an ailing family member, and you cannot be fired. But nobody pays you for that time off, so you'd better have your vacation time saved up if your mother is diagnosed with cancer less than a year after your father passed away from cancer (wish I were making that up, but that was my husband's life two years ago).

As a woman who has no maternity leave and whose insurance company doesn't cover her birth control (I sure do wonder how they figure all that's supposed to work out?), I don't take kindly to the comments above.

I'm glad you feel you have a right to discriminate against ALL WOMEN just because there is a chance that maybe perhaps she might get pregnant. I've been in the workforce, paying higher insurance premiums than men because of my extra girly parts, for over eight years. Do you know hoe many times I've been pregnant? NOT A ONE.

Oh, and Anonymous #2, I would LOVE more than ANYTHING to resign once I got pregnant so I could stay home with my children. Believe you me. The problem? My health insurance is tied to my job. No job = no insurance... so how do I pay for the hospital bills? I do have a husband, he does have a job, but his loser of an employer does not offer benefits, even though he's been promising to get health insurance for my husband pretty much since he started working there. That's how we do things here in the grand ol' US of A.

I need to get off this comment thread, because the rampant misogyny is seriously bad for my health.

But so you all feel better: please let me apologize, on behalf of all us loose women who want to bear children (and those who don't, since you refuse to hire them, too), for being oh, so selfish and possessing a uterus. I can see how this greatly inconveniences you.

I won't even be silly enough to ask if any of you upstanding Anonymous folks have families, or engage in having sex (which, FYI, leads to pregnancy which leads to requesting maternity leave). Because I know silly things like "logic" don't generally enter into your conversations.

phatboy said...

Criss L. Cox - what can I say? You live in a crap-hole of a country and you (appear) to know it.

Everyone else, while I agree that if I were the boss of a small business I would be wary of hiring a woman who might leave to go on maternity (and since your not allowed to ask if they have such plans you can't find out). We do employ women who could leave to have kids but its not a massive problem for us.

That said I would much rather live in a country that does provide for families by allowing people time off to have kids and give them a decent start for a few months than to live in country like the US.

Incidentally, my girlfriend is pregnant and will be taking some time off from her NHS job while the baby is small. She's not having the whole time to which she is entitled, as (contrary to some suggestions on here) you are not entitled to full pay for the entirety of your leave and we would not be able to afford her staying off once her (generous) NHS maternity pay is reduced... also, we both think it would be good for her to get back to work rather than sitting around at home miles from her friend and family.

If anybody doesn't like it then good for you and maybe you'd like to take your little businesses over to the US.

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